Monday, October 25, 2010

SMU math colloquium presents ‘The Spiraling Art of Mollusks’

Dr. Judy Holdener of Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, will discuss “The Spiraling Art of Mollusks,” Thursday, Nov. 4, at Saint Mary’s University as part of an ongoing Women in Math Colloquium.

This colloquium, hosted by the Saint Mary’s University Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is supported by a National Science Foundation grant to encourage women to study mathematics.

Organizers hope that through these events, high school and college-aged students will become engaged and inspired by the opportunities and challenges presented to women in the ever-progressing field of mathematics.

Dr. Holdener asks, “Are mollusks artists?” Anyone observing the spiraling seashells mollusks sometimes produce might believe they are. In this talk, Dr. Holdener will reproduce the art of mollusks using a fairly elementary mathematical model of seashell form. The model is based on the observation that most shells grow isometrically, meaning they retain the same shape as they enlarge. With the help of the computer algebra system MAPLE, she will then employ iterative models to render the surface patterns commonly found on seashells. In doing so, she will not only apply mathematics to obtain the beauty found in nature, she will illustrate the beautiful nature of applied mathematics.

The event — free and open to the public — will take place from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Salvi Lecture Hall, located on the third floor of Saint Mary’s Hall. A reception for Dr. Holdener will begin at 4 p.m.

For more information, contact Dr. Kevin Dennis at or (507) 457-6650.