Pamela Pyzza joined Kenyon’s faculty in 2020 after spending five years as a faculty member at Ohio Wesleyan University. As an applied mathematician, her research considers the dynamics of complex network systems with real-world applications in biological and social sciences. Pyzza works in the field of computational neuroscience where she uses mathematical modeling and computer programming to investigate how networks of neurons coordinate to perform complex functions underlying seemingly commonplace neurological aspects of everyday life such as one’s sense of smell and the necessity of sleep. Pyzza believes that effective communication between applied mathematicians and experimental researchers paves the way for robust research and important scientific progress.

Pyzza’s teaching focuses on the theory and methodologies used to model real-world problems, leading students toward a mathematical understanding of phenomena that arise in their own experiences. She emboldens students to take ownership of and pride in their work and to develop strong communication skills.

Areas of Expertise

Dynamical systems, computational neuroscience, biological network modeling

Education

2015 — Doctor of Philosophy from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institu

2010 — Master of Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institu

2009 — Bachelor of Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institu

Courses Recently Taught

The first in a three-semester calculus sequence, this course covers the basic ideas of differential calculus. Differential calculus is concerned primarily with the fundamental problem of determining instantaneous rates of change. In this course we will study instantaneous rates of change from both a qualitative geometric and a quantitative analytic perspective. We will cover in detail the underlying theory, techniques and applications of the derivative. The problem of anti-differentiation, identifying quantities given their rates of change, also will be introduced. The course will conclude by relating the process of anti-differentiation to the problem of finding the area beneath curves, thus providing an intuitive link between differential calculus and integral calculus. Those who have had a year of high school calculus but do not have advanced placement credit for MATH 111 should take the calculus placement exam to determine whether they are ready for MATH 112. Students who have 0.5 units of credit for calculus may not receive credit for MATH 111. This counts toward the core course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: solid grounding in algebra, trigonometry and elementary functions. Offered every semester.

Special Topic

This course provides a survey of several techniques used in applied mathematics. We will discuss the mathematical formulation of models for a variety of processes that arise in the natural and social sciences. We will derive the appropriate equations to describe these processes and use techniques from calculus, differential equations, linear algebra and numerical methods when needed. This course may touch on topics like dimensional analysis, scaling, kinetic equations and perturbation methods. Students will have the opportunity to investigate applications within their fields of interest such as biology, medicine, physics, chemistry and finance. A strong background in calculus is essential; a familiarity with differential equations is recommended, but not required. This counts toward the Computation/Modeling/Applied (Column D) elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: MATH 213 and sophomore standing or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.

Differential equations arise naturally to model dynamical systems such as often occur in physics, biology, chemistry and economics, and have given major impetus to other fields in mathematics, such as topology and the theory of chaos. This course covers basic analytic, numerical and qualitative methods for the solution and understanding of ordinary differential equations. Computer-based technology will be used. This counts toward the Computation/Modeling/Applied (Column D) elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: MATH 224 or PHYS 245 or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.

This course introduces students to the concepts, techniques and power of mathematical modeling. Both deterministic and probabilistic models will be explored, with examples taken from the social, physical and life sciences. Students engage cooperatively and individually in the formulation of mathematical models and in learning mathematical techniques used to investigate those models. This counts toward the Computational/Modeling/Applied (Column D) elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: STAT 106 and MATH 224 or 258 or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.

The senior seminar in mathematics will guide students through the process of writing their senior capstone paper — a comprehensive, expository manuscript about mathematical/statistical content that delves deeper into one of these fields than the level of content presented in their coursework. Some sessions will introduce students to tools for success such as literature searches, good note-taking strategies, proper use of citations and mathematical typesetting for large documents. Other sessions will be used to provide structure and a timeline for completing the capstone paper, and will include a short talk by each student based on the required paper outline, peer review sessions and time in class to work on the manuscript. Additionally, several sessions will be used to prepare students to take the Educational Testing Service Major Field Test in Mathematics, which mathematics majors must pass to graduate. This counts toward the core course requirement for the major and is only open to senior mathematics majors. Offered every fall.

Individual study is a privilege reserved for students who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a research project on a topic not regularly offered in the curriculum. It is intended to supplement, not take the place of, coursework. Individual study cannot be used to fulfill requirements for the major. Individual studies will earn 0.25–0.50 units of credit. To qualify, a student must identify a member of the mathematics department willing to direct the project. The professor, in consultation with the student, will create a tentative syllabus (including a list of readings and/or problems, goals and tasks) and describe in some detail the methods of assessment (e.g., problem sets to be submitted for evaluation biweekly; a 20-page research paper submitted at the course's end, with rough drafts due at given intervals, and so on). The department expects the student to meet regularly with his or her instructor for at least one hour per week. All standard enrollment/registration deadlines for regular college courses apply. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar's deadline. Individual study course may be counted as electives in the mathematics major, subject to consultation with and approval by the department of Mathematics and Statistics. Permission of instructor and department chair required. No prerequisite.\n\n