Episode 7: Ben & Carolyn with Central Kentucky Math Circles

IcosahedronBen Braun and Carolyn Troha are both involved with the Central Kentucky Math Circles, a group whose goal is to provide students with opportunities and encouragement to become passionate and excited about mathematics.

The CKMC offers two math circles: the high school math circle, which is open to all interested high school students across Kentucky, and the elementary school math circle, which is currently serving students at Tates Creek Elementary School.

In this episode of the Innovation Update, Josh talks with Ben and Carolyn about both math circles and the need for math programming in Kentucky. For more information on the CKMC, visit: http://www.ms.uky.edu/~circles/


Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role

DNA Discovery“The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as ‘junk’ but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches.”

Read the entire New York Times article here.

STEM Careers: Actuarial Analyst

Jacob Vervynckt

Jacob Vervynckt, actuarial analyst

Actuarial Analyst for Lincoln Financial Group in Ft. Wayne, Indiana

Graduate of Western Kentucky University


Technology is continuing to develop at a rapid pace, so the United States needs bright new students in math and the sciences to keep on the cutting edge of innovation.

How did you become interested in math?

Math and the sciences in general were always my favorite subjects in school. Ever since I was young, I have always enjoyed figuring out problems and puzzles involving numbers and logic. I find being able to figure out where all the pieces go in working toward a solution very rewarding. When deciding on college, I knew I wanted to do something in the math and science fields, leading me to get degrees in mathematics and chemistry from Western Kentucky University.


Tell us about your job and what it is you do for Lincoln Financial Group.

At Lincoln Financial Group, I work in the Asset/Liability Management department working with fixed annuities. The main part of my job is to run scenarios projecting cash flows into the future under varying risk assumptions and sensitivities, such as changes in interest, mortality, and lapse rates, to see how such changes could affect our future profitability.


Why is it important to the future of this country to get more students interested in math?

Math is all around us and affects everyone. It is used in so many different fields for so many different reasons. Without someone understanding the math and science that goes into new innovations, we would not have many of the modern conveniences that we enjoy today. Technology is continuing to develop at a rapid pace, so the United States needs bright new students in math and the sciences to keep on the cutting edge of innovation.


What is your ultimate goal as an actuarial analyst?

My goal is to mitigate risk so as to help Lincoln Financial Group move securely forward in serving its customers’ financial needs.


What do you think would help get students more interested in math at a younger age?

A common complaint heard in math classes is “When am I ever going to use this?” As I stated earlier, math affects everyone in the products they use in their day-to-day lives. So although you may not need to know the math in order to operate your cell phone, car, or computer, you better be glad that someone does know how to do it.

Thus, I think that giving students concrete examples and hands-on experience of how the math and science they are learning is used in the real world will hopefully increase the knowledge and appreciation for math and the sciences in the general population and encourage and excite those students who dream of going into the math and science fields to make the next big scientific breakthrough.