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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. James Martin to Present at Joint Math Meetings

By Ashley Herndon, Staff Reporter


Dr. James Martin, assistant professor of mathematics, will present a paper at the Joint Math Meetings in Denver, Colo. in January 2020.


When asked about how he came across this opportunity, Martin said it wasn’t too difficult. “As long as you submit an abstract before the mid-September deadline and can arrange your own travel and lodging, you have a good chance of being accepted to give a talk,” Martin said.


Regarding what to talk about, Martin thinks back to when he first started teaching at HSU. “I began teaching at Hardin-Simmons in fall 2016 and happened to be given an office next to Dr. Patrick Miller, professor of mathematics, and director of the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC),” Martin said.


After hearing about IASC’s campaign in Hawaii, Martin became interested in finding the asteroids that computerized sky surveys may have missed. Bringing an understanding of math and software together, Martin believes he has found a way to process the images to decrease the noise in the photos.


“Some of the things I tried worked quite well, and I decided they would be fun to share with other mathematicians at the JMM,” Martin said.


Martin’s interest in astronomy first started when he was in middle school and his parents paid for his membership in the Abilene Astronomical Society. “Although I never had much luck memorizing constellations or the names of the brightest stars, I still love looking up at the night sky in wonder,” Martin said.


Combining his passion for astronomy and experience in mathematics, Martin discovered a way to show pixels moving across several images showing the trail of an asteroid. “...A pixel that is only bright in one image could be an asteroid. If it is an asteroid, then other pictures in the sequence will have corresponding bright pixels nearby,” Martin said.


Martin is pleased to have the opportunity to share his findings with the JMM in January. “As a professional mathematician and very amateur astronomer... I wondered if there was a way to help guide the eyes of thousands of schoolchildren toward undiscovered objects,” Martin said.