SOU lectures-calculations on chalkboard

WSU’s Watkins to offer thought-provoking mathematical lectures at SOU

Washington State University’s David Watkins will dive into a pair of deep mathematical concepts when he presents lectures at SOU on Friday, May 3, about eigenvalues and mathematical research.

Watkins’ first presentation, at 10:30 a.m. in Taylor Hall, Room 28-31, will offer an examination of eigenvalues for the 36th installment of SOU’s annual Kieval Lecture. He will describe current research into eigenvalues and set straight some commonly taught computational missteps.

“Toward the end of a first course in linear algebra, students learn that matrices have these things called eigenvalues,” Watkins said in describing his lecture. “They will certainly be taught how to compute eigenvalues, but the method that they will learn is wrong!”

The lecture series – which is free and open to the public – was endowed by the late Harry S. Kieval for speakers to address broad popular aspects of mathematics that are attractive to undergraduates and the general public. Kieval was an Ashland mathematician who died in 1994 at age 80.

Watkins – an internationally recognized expert in scientific computing, numerical analysis and numerical linear algebra – will also serve as guest lecturer for this week’s Friday Science Seminar. That presentation, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 151 of the Science Building, will cover the benefits and satisfaction of conducting original mathematic research – even if the same work was done in ancient Greece.

“Anybody can do research,” Watkins said. “If you can figure it out for yourself, the reward in satisfaction will be substantial. And it doesn’t matter whether you discover something new or rediscover things that have been known for a thousand years.”

Watkins is a professor emeritus of mathematics at WSU. He is the author of three books in the field and more than 100 mathematical and scientific publications. He was recently honored, along with several co-authors, by the award of a SIAM Outstanding Paper Prize for work in eigenvalue computations.

The Friday Science Seminar lecture is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided by SOU’s STEM Division. The lecture series offers presentations each week on topics ranging from biology to computer science to chemistry.

Friday Science Seminar-Paddock-Alzheimer's

Friday Science Seminar: SOU alumna and faculty member on Alzheimer’s

Brie Paddock, an SOU alumna and assistant professor in the university’s Biology Department, will discuss the role of metals in Alzheimer’s disease during a Friday Science Seminar on Friday, Feb. 22.

Paddock’s lecture will be in the Science Building Auditorium (Room 151) from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The lecture is free and refreshments will be provided by SOU’s STEM Division.

Alzheimer’s Disease afflicts 5.3 million Americans, has few current treatments and no known cure. The progressive, neuro-degenerative disease involves multiple factors – including genetic and environmental – and is characterized by abnormal plaque deposits and “tangles” in the brain, which disrupt communication between synapses  and lead to losses in memory function.

Paddock’s talk will focus on current research on the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s, including the role of metals in the disease’s progression.  A small percentage of cases are caused by a single gene, including rare mutations in Amyloid Precursor Protein and associated proteins.

Paddock joined SOU’s Biology Department in 2018, and teaches courses in animal physiology and principles of biology. Her background also includes molecular biology, immunohistochemistry and human physiology.

Her research centers on synaptic function using the fruit fly (Drosophila) model. Paddock helped develop a fruit fly model of Alzheimer’s disease, and uses the model to test the role of oxidative stress and environmental factors in the disease’s development, particularly in memory function and synaptic structure.

Her previous work included a determination of the molecular mechanism of calcium-dependent exocytosis at the synapse, a key event in cell-to-cell communication in the nervous system.

SOU’s Friday Science Seminar program offers presentations each week on topics ranging from biology to computer science to chemistry.

SOU Jim Hatton

SOU’s Friday Science Seminar returns with the “replication crisis”


(Ashland, Ore.) — The fall series of Southern Oregon University’s popular Friday Science Seminars will open Oct. 5 with a presentation by Jim Hatton, SOU’s mathematics program chair, on the so-called “replication crisis.”

Hatton will review causes and some proposed solutions to the crisis, which stems from social scientists’ frequent inability to reproduce important studies. Statistical methods commonly used by the scientists has been called into question.

The lecture will be in SOU’s Science Auditorium (Science Building, Room 151), from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, with light refreshments provided by the university’s STEM Division.

A 2016 poll of 1,500 scientists by the journal “Nature” found that 70 percent had failed to reproduce at least one other scientist’s experiment and 50 percent had failed to reproduce experiments of their own.

The inability to replicate studies could have serious consequences for scientific fields in which significant theories are based on experimental work that cannot be reproduced. Replication of experiments is an essential element of scientific research.

The replication crisis, which was identified in the early 2010s as awareness of the problem grew, has been a significant issue in the fields of social psychology and medicine, where several efforts have been made to replicate classic studies or experiments, and to determine the reliability of results.

Hatton teaches developmental mathematics and precalculus at SOU, and publishes his mathematics explorations and other thoughts on his blog, Math Thoughts. He received his bachelor’s degree from Rice University and his master’s degree in operations research from Stanford University.

SOU’s weekly Friday Science Seminars cover a variety of topics from academic, industrial, commercial and non-profit sectors in the fields of biology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science.

Other lectures in the next month include “A Frame Semantic Approach to Metaphoric Meaning,” on Oct. 12 with SOU German language instructor Maggie Gemmell; “Assessment of Virulence Mechanisms used by Pathogenic Vibrio Species,” on Oct. 19 with Blake Ushijima, an Oregon State University postdoctoral researcher of coral disease; and “Fall into Chemistry,” on Oct. 26 with the SOU Chemistry Club.


About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit

SOU’s Friday Science Seminar features fun fall experiments

NEWS BRIEF (available online at
(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s Friday Science Seminar for this week will feature “various marvels of chemistry,” as SOU Chemistry Club members demonstrate experiments that will light up pumpkins, freeze-dry marshmallows and wow the audience with interactive displays of scientific wonder.
The seminars – community-oriented events held on most Fridays during the academic year – are free and open to the public. This week’s “Fall into Chemistry” installment will be from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Room 151 of the SOU Science Building.
Refreshments will be provided by the university’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Division.
The SOU Chemistry Club is certified by the American Chemical Society and made up of students who are passionate about science.