aBa's Webpage

aBa doing research with his advisor Tymoczko's cat

Rm. 526 in Hibbard Hall
Office Phone: 715 836 2835
Email: mbirika@uwec.edu

Spring '14 Schedule

Older Schedules (art?)

Paper Mail
Aba Mbirika
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Department of Mathematics - HHH508
105 Garfield Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54701

Current Position

(2013 to Present) -- Assistant Professor at University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire

Previous Positions

(2010 to 2013) -- Postdoctoral Fellow and Instructor at Bowdoin College
(2004 to 2010) -- Graduate Teaching Assistant at Univesity of Iowa
Univ of Iowa logo
Bowdoin Polar Bear


Ph.D. in Mathematics (2010) -- University of Iowa
M.S. in Mathematics (2006) -- University of Iowa
B.A. (2003) -- Sonoma State University

Professional Documents (updated Spring 2014)

1) Curriculum Vitae
2) Research Statement and a list of publications with abstracts available by clicking here.
3) Two-page Summary of my Research Statement
4) Teaching Statement (from Bowdoin College)
5) Teaching Evaluation Summaries (from Univ of Iowa) (2005--2010)
6) Teaching Evaluation Summaries (from Bowdoin College) (2010--2012)
7) All written student comments from my Fall 2013 Calculus II course (40pgs)

Research Publications

In Preparation:

Interdisciplinary Research Publications

Expository Math Writings

Teaching (at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)

Fall 2014 - Math 104 (Sections 001 and 002) - Finite Mathematics
Fall 2014 - Math 425 - Abstract Algebra I
Summer 2014 - SREU on Lattice Point Visibility
Spring 2014 - Math 104 (Sections 001 and 002) - Finite Mathematics - syllabus
Spring 2014 - Math 314 (Section 001) - Discrete Mathematics - syllabus
Fall 2013 - Math 109 (Sections 012 and 013) - Algebra for Calculus - syllabus
Fall 2013 - Math 314 (Section 001) - Discrete Mathematics - syllabus

Teaching (at Bowdoin College)

Spring 2013 - Differential Calculus - syllabus and a more personal syllabus companion
Fall 2012 - Combinatorics: Graph Theory and Enumeration Principles - syllabus and a first day of class quiz!
Summer 2012 - Bowdoin Science Experience (Topic: Lattice point geometry and graph theory) - photos
Spring 2012 - Integral Calculus - syllabus
Fall 2011 - Integral Calculus - syllabus
Summer 2011 - Bowdoin Science Experience (Topic: Mathematical induction and number theory) - photos and my students' presentations
Spring 2011 - Combinatorics: Graph Theory and Enumeration Principles - syllabus
Fall 2010 - Differential Calculus - syllabus and a more personal syllabus companion
Summer 2010 - Bowdoin Science Experience - (Topic: Linear algebra & multivariable calculus.  Co-taught with Thom Pietraho)

Teaching (at University of Iowa)

Spring 2009 - Abstract Algebra - (Teaching Assistant) - syllabus
Fall 2008 - Basic Algebra II - A precalculus course - (Instructor) - syllabus
Fall 2007 - Calculus I - (Teaching Assistant)
Summer 2007 - Vigre REU Teaching Assistant in Graph Theory (and Undergraduate Research Advisor)
Summer 2006 - Alliance REU Teaching Assistant in Linear Algebra (Summer REU for underrepresented students in Mathematics)
Spring 2006 - Logic of Arithmetic - A course for students in elementary education - (Teaching Assistant)
Fall 2005 - Calculus and Matrix Algebra for Business - (Teaching Assistant)

Teaching Awards

2014 - Certificate of Recognition for Contributions to Students -- to see a copy of the award click here
2009 - University Housing Academic Excellence Award (34 total awarded campus-wide)
2006 - The University of Iowa Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award (25 total awarded campus-wide)
2005 - Catherine Wegner Outstanding Mathematics Teaching Assistant Award

Current Research

I have just completed my third and final year as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Bowdoin College, and now I currently hold a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.  Broadly speaking, I am interested in combinatorics as related to areas such as combinatorial representation theory and algebraic/topological combinatorics.  My collaborator Julianna Tymoczko (recently from University of Iowa and now at Smith College) and I worked on a joint project on truncated symmetric functions towards a combinatorial description of the cohomology ring of Hessenberg varieties, which are a generalization of Springer varieties. Our results were published in the Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics in 2012 (see link above).  We are currently working on a project on representation stability and FI-modules.  My collaborators Thomas Pietraho, Bill Silver, and I have recently completed and submitted a joint paper on the sign representations of imprimitive complex reflection groups, G(r,p,n) (see link above).  During my Spring '08 semester residence at MSRI, I begun a project (currently on hold  - but would love to start again perhaps with a research student here at UWEC!?) on the Schur-Weyl duality of the alternating group begun with Tom Halverson of Macalester College and continued with co-advisor Fred Goodman of University of Iowa.

Here are brief introductions to some selected objects and ideas that I think about:
  1. On  my Schur-Weyl duality project.  This 2 page write-up describes the problem that I am working on.  It is also a good introduction for an undergraduate interested in doing research with me on this project.
  2. Complex reflection groups.  This 5 page write-up briefly describes the family of imprimitive complex reflection groups (giving various combinatorial ways of viewing their elements), irreducible representations of these groups, a description (and an example) of a generalized Robinson-Schensted correspondence between these groups and pairs of same-shape multitableaux, and some combinatorial implications of the latter map.

MSRI Resident Spring 2008 at Berkeley, CA

In the Spring semester of 2008, I was a Program Associate at the Combinatorial Representation Theory Program.  During this semester, I begun research with four different residents: Georgia Benkart, Steve Doty, Sasha Kleschev, and Tom Halverson.  Of the four projects, I am continuing the work started with Tom Halverson on the alternating group.  Thus far I have completely determined the branching rules for this group.  Towards a Schur-Weyl duality of this group, I am investigating the centralizer of its action on an n-fold tensor product of its permutation representation.  Vaughn Jones (also in residence this semester) talked with me about his findings on the symmetric group's centralizer, i.e., the so-called partition algebra.  This work was done by him in 1992.  So far no one has done the alternating group analogue.  I am attempting to accomplish this.

Recent/Future Invited Talks/Conferences/Colloquiums

Feb 9, 2014 - Progressive Valley Cooperative - Title: A general audience math talk on two counting problems - (Eau Claire, WI)
March 26, 2014 - Meals with Honors Students Presentation - Title: Combinatorics and a connection to the value pi - (Eau Claire, WI)
April 18, 2014 - University of Minnesota Combinatorics Seminar - Title: A Robinson-Schendsted Correspondence on complex reflection groups G(r,p,n) - (Minneapolis, MN)
Sept 20-21, 2014 - AMS Central Sectional Meeting [Special Session on Patterns in Permutations and Words, and Applications] - Title: TBD - (Eau Claire, WI)
October 16-18, 2014 - SACNAS National Conference - Title: Applying the Chinese remainder theorem to a lattice point geometry problem - (Los Angeles, CA)
January 13, 2015 - AMS Special Session on "Graphs, Matrices, and Other Related Problems" at the Joint Mathematics Meeting - Title: TBD - (San Antonio, TX)

Invited Conference/Colloquium/Seminar Talks Given

1. Various talks in the Representation Theory Seminar on GL(2)-representations over a finite field - 2006 to 2007 (University of Iowa)
2. Various talks in the Representation Theory Seminar on Nondegenerate Smooth Representations - 2006 to 2007 (University of Iowa)
3. Two talks in the Algebraic Geometry Seminar on Flag Varieties and Grassmanians of different Lie Type - Fall 2007 (University of Iowa)
4. VIGRE REU Seminar talk on Partition Theory - Summer 2008 (University of Iowa)
5. GAUSS talk to Prospective Graduate Students - Title: All of Math Grad School in a Nutshell - March 2009 (University of Iowa)
6. AMS Sectional Meeting [Special Session on Algebra, Geometry and Combinatorics] - Title: Cohomology of Hessenberg Varieties - March 2009 (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
7. History talk to undergrads - Title: Euler, Da Man! - April 2009 (Winona State University at Minnesota)
8. Heartland Math Talk - Title: Interesting Aspects of Number Partitions - April 2009 (University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse)
9. Combinatorial Algebraic Geometry on Flag Varieties Conference - Title: Intro to Schubert Calculus - June 2009 (University of Iowa)
10. Algebraic Geometry Seminar - Title: A combinatorial description of H^*(Peterson) - September 2009 (University of Iowa)
11. MAA Iowa Sectional Meeting - Title: Cool combinatorics arising in a cohomology hunt! - October 2009 (University of Northern Iowa)
12. Title: What sort of mathematics does aBa do? - February 2010 (University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire)
13. Title: Are algebraic geometers trying to take over the world? - February 2010 (Bowdoin College in Maine)
14. Title: Are algebraic geometers trying to take over the world? - March 2010 (Wake Forest University in North Carolina)
15. AMS Central Section Meeting [Special Session on Combinatorial Representation Theory] - Title: Exploring the cohomology ring of generalized Springer varieties - April 2010 (Macalester College in Minnesota)
16. MAA Math Fest [Special Session on Combinatorial Games and Schubert Calculus] - Title: Ideals of symmetric functions and their application to cohomology rings of Hessenberg varieties - August 2010 (Pittsburgh, PA) - Abstract
17. M.I.T. Combinatorics Seminar - Title: Ideals of partial symmetric functions and a generalization of the Tanisaki ideal - October 2010 (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) - Abstract
18. Math Colloquium - Title: From Lewis Carroll to an Interesting Conjecture -- The Rabbit Hole Exposed!? - October 2010 (Colby College in Maine) - Abstract
19. MAA Northeastern Section Meeting - Title: What's cool about combinatorics? - November 2010 (Providence College in Rhode Island) - Abstract
20. AMS Central Section Meeting [Special Session on Geometric Representation Theory] - Title:  Commutative algebra meets geometric representation theory - (University of Iowa at Iowa City, IA), also attended pre-conference workshop on "Applications to Schubert Calculus" - March 18-20, 2011 (University of Iowa) - Abstract
21. AMS Eastern Section Meeting [Special Session on Combinatorial Representation Theory] - Title: Combinatorial commutative algebra meets an object from geometric representation theory - April 9-10, 2011 (College of the Holy Cross at Worcester, MA) - Abstract
22. Faculty Research Seminar - Title: Commutative algebraic techniques to investigate the cohomology ring of certain family of varieties - April 2011 (Bowdoin College)
23. AMS Southeastern Section Meeting [Special Session on Symmetric functions] - Title: Truncated symmetric functions with an application to generalized Springer theory - September 24-25, 2011 (Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, NC) - Abstract - Slides
24. M*A*T*H Colloquium - Title: Do you value the value of Pi? - March 14, 2012 (Sonoma State University) - Abstract - Video Recording (click on high speed version)
25. NSF USTARS Conference (Underrepresented Students in Topology and Algebra Research Symposium) - Title: Two families united as one - A symmetric functions tale - April 2012 (University of Iowa) - Group Photo
26. SACNAS [Scientific Symposia Session in Number Theory] - Title: A number theoretic connection to a problem in graph theory - October 11-14, 2012 - (Seattle, WA)
27. The February 2013 on-campus job interview talks:
28. NSF USTARS Conference (Underrepresented Students in Topology and Algebra Research Symposium) - Title: Robinson-Schensted correspondence between complex reflection groups G(r,p,n) and pairs of multitableaux - April 19-22, 2013 - (Purdue University) - Abstract

Service (at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)

March 2014 - Volunteer for the Sonia Kovalevsky Day for female middle and high school students.
February 2013 - Volunteer for the high school Math Meet.
September 2013 - Organized the UWEC Math Dept "Math in the Woods" event at Lake Wissota, WI.
October 2013 - 4th Annual "Eau Cares" House Calls Program - Volunteered to check-in with students inside their dorm rooms and see how their first few weeks are going.
Fall 2013 to Present - Faculty Mentor for the Math Club.
Fall 2013 to Present - Mathematics Department Library Committee - Along with Ursula Whitcher, we coordinate the library purchases for the department.

Service (at Bowdoin College and Maine Community)

September 2010 - Bowdoin Common Good Day volunteer at People Plus, a teen and older adult center in Brunswick, ME
Fall 2010 to Spring 2011 - Building atmosphere coordinator for Searles Hall (revitalization of the Math Common Room - Searles 214 with Emma Chiappetta '11)
April 2011 - Judge for Bowdoin Entertainment Board's Battle of the Bands
April 2011 - Assisted with the 2nd night Passover seder at The Cedars, a Jewish senior center in Portland, ME
Summer 2010, 2011, and 2012 - Bowdoin Science Experience instructor
October 2011 - Runway model for Bowdoin Career Planning's Do's and Dont's Fashion Show
January 2011 & 2012 - Sat on faculty panel for Lincoln Middle School's ELL program's visit with students.
February 2012 - Judge for Class of 2014's Mr. Polar Bear Contest
September 2012 - Bowdoin Common Good Day volunteer at ArtVan, a mobile arts therapy program in Bath, ME
November 2012 - Explore Bowdoin - met with prospective students from various diverse backgrounds
November 2012 - Discussing Difference - A Bowdoin ResLife-sponsored event to involve students in open and honest conversations regarding diversity, privilege and difference.

Service (at Univ of Iowa)

2005 to 2010 - Undergraduate Math Club Advisor
Fall 2005 - Tutor for displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina
2005, 2007 to 2010 - Undergraduate Math Lab Tutor
2008 to 2010 - English Buddy Program (tutored English to help foreign math graduate students pass the SPEAK exam)

Professional Affiliations

Member, American Mathematical Society -- AMS
Member, Mathematical Association of America -- MAA
Member, Northeastern Section NExT Fellow
Member, Project NExT Fellow (Blue 10 Dot)

Personal Stuff

UWEC Class Photos

Bowdoin Class Photos and Calculus Gatherings

Photos of Friends and Family

An interview in a local Maine paper Coastal Journal

Article in Bowdoin's Academic Spotlight feature on Postdocs

aBa in Style in the 3rd Dimension (from Margot Fay's fashion blog)

Fun Stuff

Wacky Flyers I Made for Math Club (at Univ of Iowa)

Some older Wacky Math Newsletters that I co-created (at Univ of Iowa)

Videos of me explaining mathematical concepts to my students via song/rap

Calculus II -- Solids of Revolution Rap on YouTube (Undergraduate Level)

I wrote this for my Spring 2012 Bowdoin students in Calculus II.  Lyrics sheet available here.

Graph Theory and Enumerative Combinatorics Rap on YouTube (Undergraduate Level)

This is my first ever combinatorial "poem".  I wrote it for my Bowdoin students in Spring 2011 to give them a wee break and a fun overview of the two major topics covered in our Math 258 course.  Lyrics sheets with blackboard shots available by clicking here.

Patriotic Real/Complex Analysis Rap on YouTube (Masters/PhD Level)

When I found out my office mate Jonas Meyer was holding analysis class on a school holiday, I felt bummed out for the students.  So I decided to write them a math treat.  The holiday was July 4th (the next day), so there's a mix of patriotism in this poem about analysis.  Lyric sheet available here.

Bijective Function Rap on YouTube (Undergraduate Level)

This poem was delivered to my Abstract Algebra class at the Univ of Iowa in Spring 2009.  I actually wrote it while I was an undergrad at Sonoma State University in Northern California.  Lyric sheet available here.

An Algebra Rap on YouTube (First-year College Level)

The above is a poem I wrote for the class I taught in Fall 2008 at the Univ of Iowa.  My friend Max filmed me in a Chinese restaurant in NYC with some sorta Blackberry gizmo or something.  I wasn't convinced that the machine had the capabilities to record a video, but it did it seems.  Click above to watch/listen.  Lyrics sheet available here.

Teaching a Course on Math for Elementary Education Majors at Univ of Iowa in Spring 2006
aBa teaching outdoors Spring 2006
... sometimes teaching indoors on a nice day is such a drag - that's when you need a blackboard on wheels!!

This page was last modified on July 23, 2014, by extra-planetary beings from a galaxy near you.  Go U Blugolds!!

Click on the bear below to go to my official UWEC faculty webpage:

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PROCLAIMER: Click on "Proclaimer", and Tibetan Buddhist scholar Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche introduces this film up to the 4min marker.  The meat of the film's discussion begins at the 9min marker.  Also when asked how/why I got interested in math, I usually answer with words like "outdoor raves / technivals / full moon gatherings".  I found mathematics on many sunrises & moonsets in deserts, farms, fields, and Pacific coast beaches--somewhere between minimal detroit house, deep house, tribal house, and hard acid techno house (see map on House) at this link.  If you were one of the many beautiful souls that evolved with me through our bliss & harmony on those mornings dancing to the sunrise in Northern California, then you might recall the bass bins oozing Psychotropic Hypnosis or perhaps Frankie Knuckles' Whistle Song.  Love&LIGHT to Wicked, Sunset, Come-Unity, the Gathering, Friends and Family, Floppy's, Consortium of Collective Consciousness (CCC), Semi-Permanent Autonomous Zone (SPAZ), and all the sound system collectives!