Dr. Melissa Erdmann

Faculty/Staff profile

Contact information

Dr. Melissa Erdmann

Professor of Mathematics
merdmann [at] NebrWesleyan.edu

Olin Hall 114

Monday-Friday 2-3 pm

(402) 465-2208

Once upon a time I was born in Wheat Ridge, Colorado to a chemist father from Minnesota and a librarian mother from Pennsylvania. Please allow me to go back a generation. Three of my four grandparents had formal education that ended after eighth grade; then they were needed to do farm work. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to obtain my formal education.

After finishing high school in Colorado, I planned to become a pharmacist and studied for a semester at Drake University in Des Moines. I missed math, however, and decided to transfer at semester and study math and German at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, only 40 miles from my Erdmann grandparents. Although I did not know it at the time, my father joked that at this rate I would attend 8 different schools before I graduated. I student taught and intended to teach high school, but then I found that I was more suited to teaching at the college level.

So my path has been directed to Nebraska Wesleyan University, and I am very happy to be teaching here! Whether it be through the study of mathematics, German coffee hour, chapel, Cardinal Key, or some other avenue, so many wonderful students have come into my life, not to mention fantastic faculty and splendid staff.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Ph.D. Mathematics (Numerical Analysis), Colorado State University, 2001
M.S. Mathematics (Algebra), Colorado State University, 1998
B.A. Mathematics and German, Luther College, 1996

a wide variety

Mathematics is beautiful, and I like learning about various and sundry areas of it. This makes Nebraska Wesleyan University an ideal place for me because I have the opportunity to teach all sorts of math courses.

While on sabbatical at Colorado State University, I had the opportunity to learn about electrical impedance tomography (EIT) in Professor Jennifer Mueller's laboratory.  Her lab group does mathematics research related to EIT and lung imaging; for research purposes they take images of cystic fibrosis patients at Children's Hospital Colorado.  In the photo above, I am mixing agar of a certain salinity to simulate a heart or lungs in the laboratory tank.  My research contributions at CSU involved linear algebra as related to applying current to the electrodes on the outside of a patient and partial differential equations for investigating the effect of skin resistivity in the EIT process.  Many students at NWU are interested in health-related fields, and it is a pleasure to discuss EIT with them.

In a different project, Dr. Eric Merten, a stream ecologist, and I investigated how calculus can be used to determine the volume of submerged wood in streams. (See http://www.comap.com/product/?idx=1060)

While on sabbatical at University College Dublin, I learned about the Irish voting system and did math research related to various voting methods. Upon my return, I have been delighted to teach about voting methods at NWU and to develop the course Mathematics and Democracy.  In Dublin I also had the opportunity to learn some about the history of mathematics and was able to visit the bridge where Hamilton carved the quaternions in 1843. The history of mathematics can enliven a math class even more. Who would have thought that Dostoyevsky would make reference to non-Euclidean geometry in "The Brothers Karamazov"? The idea that two parallel lines could meet at infinity was an exciting new topic in the nineteenth century.

Advising Math Club and Kappa Mu Epsilon

Donating Blood

Mathematical Association of America Section Governor

Mathematical Association of America
Project NExT
Phi Beta Kappa
Kappa Mu Epsilon (Mathematics Honor Society)
Pi Mu Epsilon (Mathematics Honor Society)