Tag Archives: PUC mathematics

Academic Spotlight: Mathematics

The department of mathematics at PUC prides itself on not only helping students develop problem-solving skills based on mathematical reasoning but also promoting communication and teamwork. Students are well prepared for graduate studies in mathematics and related areas, such as statistics and physics, which can lead to mathematics-related careers in medicine, government, and business. This focus will allow for research as well as teaching in higher education. Graduate study opportunities can lead to specialties in actuarial science, operations research, and applied statistics. 

As one of the smaller departments on campus, students find themselves nurtured by caring professors frequently on a one-on-one basis. Not only is this beneficial for learning complex equations and concepts, but it also often results in academic success; students graduating from the department of mathematics at PUC scored at the 99th percentile of all college and university psychology departments administering the MFT exam in 2018.  

Programs offered:

  • B.S. in Mathematics
  • B.S. in Biomathematics

A Faculty’s Perspective

“Math teaches me to be clear with myself about starting assumptions and reasoning structures; it helps me to understand that some topics can best be understood from new and different points of view; and it helps to give me a perspective on just how much I don’t know about God’s wonderful creation and the ways that we attempt to make sense of it through our reasoning. I feel fortunate to work in a learning community that is always willing and eager to engage in conversation on virtually any topic and just as willing to accept the Holy Spirit’s influence on those conversations.” –  Dr. Steve Waters, professor of mathematics

Fast Facts 

  1. Mathematicians are of high value throughout government and industry to help teams make sense of data, design new products, create forecasts, and work on anything involving pattern recognition and analysis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for mathematicians and statisticians in 2018 was approximately $88,190 per year. Overall employment of mathematicians and statisticians is projected to grow rapidly, at about 33 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is significantly faster than the average for all occupations.
  2. The math program at PUC has a very favorable student-to-teacher ratio in the upper division. These advanced courses usually have from 3-5 students. This makes it very convenient for students and professors to work closely together; the professor knows the students very well and there are abundant opportunities for individual help and student teamwork.
  3. Students graduating from the department of mathematics at PUC scored at the 99th percentile of all college and university psychology departments administering the MFT exam in 2018. 
  4. Math students are frequently hired as tutors and readers to work for the department at PUC. This provides great work experience as well as solidifying the knowledge gained in coursework.

 What You Can Do With This Major

You might be surprised by all the different career paths open to someone with a degree in mathematics. 

  • Actuary science
  • Astronomy
  • Climate study
  • Economist
  • Engineering
  • Genetic research
  • Insurance and investment
  • International banking
  • Market researcher
  • Medicine/dentistry
  • National security
  • Robotics
  • Sports consultant
  • Statistician 
  • Teaching

Learn more about the department of mathematics at puc.edu/academics. Our team of admissions counselors can answer any questions you have about PUC’s math programs, or the other majors the college offers. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email admissions@puc.edu to get connected with a counselor now and start learning about all the options available to you! 

#FacultyFriday: Meet Steve Waters

Dr. Steve Waters has taught here at PUC for 36 years and he has enjoyed every second of it. His specialization is in pure mathematics, especially abstract and linear algebras. What may be surprising about Dr. Waters is his thespian interests, a hobby that draws him to the stage whenever time allows. One place he is for sure never acting, however, is when he is at the front of the classroom—one of his favorite places to be. Join us as we get to know a little more about Dr. Waters.

Name: Steve Waters
Title: Professor of Mathematics
Email: swaters@puc.edu
Faculty since: 1983

Classes taught: Nearly every mathematics course, plus a variety of honors courses.

Education: B.S., Pacific Union College in 1979; M.S., Idaho State University in 1980; D.A., Idaho State University in 1983

What made you decide to be a teacher?
My freshman year at PUC, I conducted informal tutoring sessions for a bunch of guys on 4th floor Newton. Near the end of the year, several of them suggested to me that I should consider being a teacher since I had been able to clarify things to them so well. The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that was exactly what I wanted to do with my life. It has since become a big part of my identity—being a teacher is not just something I do, it’s who I am.

What are some of your hobbies?
Reading (just about anything), music (listening and playing), hiking, spending time with my cats.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Hmmm … I was a gymnast in high school? I had an uncle who walked on the moon? (I have been told that) I am the only person to have played a baritone sax in Grace Cathedral? I have a distant relative who headed the group Pink Floyd?

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
I love the collegiality of my department (and the broader college community). That’s my favorite, but it’s closely followed by my enjoyment of being able to teach a variety of courses, both in and out of mathematics, and being able to participate in musical ensembles. It also helps to be located in God’s vacation home here on Earth.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Whichever classroom I happen to be in while people are learning. Working with others as real understanding takes place is one of the best feelings there is. This would also include making music in the band room and concert halls. I also very much enjoy the hiking trails in the Back 40.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or song?
This is impossible to answer since I love so many books and songs (and a few movies). Books by Dickens, Dostoevsky, Adams, Pratchett, Bryson, or Stephenson would rate highly, as would songs by Beethoven, McCartney, Joel, or Scott.

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
Expose yourself to as many areas of knowledge as you can (hooray for general education!), get to know the people who love those areas, and then be true to yourself as you find what genuinely interests you. Take advantage of the wonderful area in which PUC is located and become an active part of its vibrant community.

Professional activities: Ten professional speaking invitations, two invited visiting professorships, ten published research papers, heavy involvement in PUC’s governance system.


#FacultyFriday: Meet Chantel Blackburn

For #FacultyFriday this week, meet Dr. Chantel Blackburn, an associate professor of mathematics who has taught at PUC since 2013. She specializes in mathematical knowledge for teaching at the elementary level. Previously, she worked as a graduate teaching assistant in the department of mathematics at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., assisting with classes such as Trigonometry, Calculus Preparation, Calculus I, and Understanding Elementary Mathematics. Dr. Blackburn also worked as a contractor instructor, substitute teacher, and teaching assistant at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. She has been awarded several research grants and taken two summer sabbaticals while at PUC after being awarded the college’s Faculty Development, Research, and Honors grant. Recently, Dr. Blackburn also helped raise money for the PUC Forest project by selling black(40)berry jam, which was a rousing success.

Name: Chantel C. Blackburn
Title: Associate professor of mathematics and assessment seminar coordinator
Email: cblackburn@puc.edu
Faculty since: Winter 2013

Classes taught: Introduction to Statistics; Basic Algebra I & II; Precalculus; Foundations of School Mathematics I & II; Elementary Differential Equations; Logic and Sets; Mathematical Modeling; Biomathematics; Junior & Senior Mathematics Seminar; Assessment Seminar; Senior Assessment Seminar

Education: Bachelor’s in mathematics, from Andrews University, 2006; master’s in mathematics, from the University of Arizona, 2009; Ph.D. in mathematics, from the University of Arizona, 2014

Professional activities:

Editor’s note: Since Dr. Blackburn’s professional activities are extensive, we have listed only a few of her most recent accomplishments.

Blackburn, C. C. (2017, April). “Counting across the ages: Exploring and expressing counting strategies in K- 12 and beyond”, Mills Möbius Band Math Club, Mathematics and Computer Science Department, Mills College, Oakland, CA.

Blackburn, C. C. (2017, March). “Hands-on learning never gets old: Making connections to build understanding.” March 22, 2017 Virtual Professional Learning Community of Southern Union Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist Secondary Mathematics Teachers. Lecture conducted from Pacific Union College, Angwin, CA.

Blackburn, C. C. (2016, November). “Advanced Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching: A Case of Professional Teaching Knowledge Influencing Instruction”, In M. B. Wood, E. E. Turner, M. Civil, & J. A. Eli (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (p. 522), Poster Session. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona.

Turner, E., & Blackburn C. C. (2015). Prospective and mentor teacher perspectives on co-learning events. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 24:4, 271-289, DOI: 10.1080/13611267.2016.1235010

What made you decide to be a teacher?
When I was in 7th or 8th grade I tended to learn mathematics a lot more slowly than the rest of my classmates; I took my time to understand the material thoroughly when I first started out, rather than rushing through it. By the time I caught up to my classmates, they were often struggling with the more challenging problems and I was able to understand and help them with their work. The moment when my classmates had that “ah-ha” moment, and the work clicked and made sense to them was very satisfying to me. When choosing where to go to college I was debating between pursuing a secondary teaching credential in mathematics and religion at one institution and film and television at another. Some health challenges I encountered after my junior year of high school put me in a position where I wouldn’t have the energy for the work required for film and television so I ultimately decided to pursue mathematics. I was originally planning to be a high school mathematics and Bible teacher at an Adventist academy. While I was in college, one of my professors suggested I should consider pursuing a graduate degree in mathematics. It had never occurred to me that teaching at the college level was even a possibility but it turns out it was a great fit for me as I learned more about mathematics and the teaching opportunities available at the postsecondary level.

What are some of your hobbies?
I have a hard time defining what my hobbies are because I tend to immerse myself in something for a period of time before moving on to something new. Some of the hobbies I have enjoyed include writing recreationally, dabbling in solo multitrack recording with guitar, voice, and recorder, and playing video games. Lately, I’ve been spending most of my time outside of work playing my clarinet in PUC’s symphonic wind ensemble and orchestra, watching football, and spending time with my cats.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
While it might not be much of a surprise to learn I’m a bit of a Star Trek geek, my writing took that interest to a higher level. I suppose I was too young and the internet “new enough” that I wasn’t aware of the concept of fan fiction so I actually submitted a complete spec teleplay to the series “Star Trek: Voyager” at the end of my freshman year of high school. My script was logged in and out and when I got it back, along with my very own signed rejection letter from the script coordinator, it had clearly been read. This remains a highlight of my writing experience because I felt it was quite an accomplishment to have attempted something like that as a 9th grader.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
The community is definitely my favorite thing about PUC. I have always desired to be in a place where I could have interactions with people in both intellectual and spiritual dimensions and I have found that here.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
If I had to choose a favorite spot on campus, I would probably say Paulin Hall Room 144 where I’ve had the opportunity to get to know students better while I participate in music ensembles. I don’t think I’ve experienced more fun anywhere else on campus.

What’s your favorite movie?
For some reason, I really enjoy science fiction “looping” stories (basically sci-fi versions of Groundhog Day) like “Edge of Tomorrow,” “Source Code,” and the “Stargate SG-1” episode, “Window of Opportunity.” I can watch them over and over again.

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
View your education as training for your future job or career. It will probably include elements you may not like, but those are opportunities to develop your responsibility for all aspects of your work. It also means following through on your obligations and meeting deadlines. This might sound boring but there is incredible satisfaction in a job well done and knowing you haven’t taken any shortcuts to get where you want to be. I would add this isn’t something easy to do at the start. I personally struggled with time management when I started college. I sought out help throughout my college career and kept making adjustments until I got the results I was looking for. By the way, I still seek out help and make adjustments.

Interested in learning more about PUC’s mathematics program? Visit puc.edu/admissions!