Home : Academics : Mathematics & Statistics



Caren Diefenderfer, chair
(540) 362-6595

Hollins University
P.O. Box 9735
Roanoke, VA 24020


Calculus the Musical
Matheatre and Know Theatre of Cincinnati present the musical parody "Calculus: The Musical." The parody uses catchy tunes and story development to present calculus in a historical context and highlight its concepts. The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Mathematics at Hollins University and Roanoke College's Math, Computer Science and Physics Department.

Intrinsic beauty applied to everyday life.

A student graduating with a mathematics major from Hollins will be a logical thinker who is well educated in major areas of mathematics:

  • Calculus
  • Linear Algebra
  • Statistics
  • Abstract Algebra
  • Analysis.

Students become adept at applying mathematical concepts to problem solving in a wide array of fields. A recent survey of mathematics graduates shows careers as bankers, teachers, defense analysts, actuaries, and programmers and graduate school placements in mathematics, forensic science, medicine, and law.


Teaching students to think critically and creatively

At Hollins, we use Maple, a mathematical/statistical software program designed to help college students learn mathematical concepts. It has packages for algebra, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, statistics, probability, and much more. The plots, 3-D graphics, and animation make visualizing mathematics easier than ever before, and easier visualization goes hand in hand with a more concrete understanding of concepts.

Faculty members also use collaborative learning to promote the discovery method of learning. Our students enjoy learning because they actively participate in the process.


Research and internships

Mathematics majors can choose to complete a senior research thesis under the direction of a department faculty member. Recent student projects include:

  • An Investigation on the Zeckendorf Representation of Fkn / Fn
  • Explorations in Biostatistics
  • Using Ratios and Continued Fractions to Analyze Musical Scales Using Numerical Methods to Solve Differential Equations
  • Using Game Theory to Solve the Jamaican Fishing Problem

On-campus research by students is supplemented by off-campus internships and summer research experiences for undergraduates. Some students choose to stay in the Roanoke Valley, a metropolitan area of 236,000, while others arrange internships in Washington, D.C., New York City, Atlanta, or their hometowns. Accounting firms, banks, and other corporations provide settings for students to put their learning to work.

Several mathematics majors have also been awarded nationally competitive summer research experiences. Recent awards include:

  • Leah Jackman, 2007 Summer Mathematics Research Experience for Undergraduates, Brigham Young University
  • Sarah Budrus, 2009 IPlant Summer Internship, University of Arizona and 2010 Summer Institute in Biostatistics, Iowa State University
  • Hong Tran, 2011 Summer Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, Summer 2011 Institute for Statistical Genetics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA and 2011 Summer Mathematical Biosciences Institute, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
  • Nicole Lovell, 2011 Summer Institute in Biostatistics, Iowa State University


Hollins Science Seminar

Each year, the Hollins Science Seminar highlights the many research projects Hollins students have carried out during the academic year. Students in psychology, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and environmental studies present posters that summarize their independent research initiatives, from field projects in the Caribbean to modeling interesting mathematical phenomena.