Office: Arts and Sciences Commons (ASC) 2038
Office Hours: M 11:00 – 1:00, TTh 10:00 – 11:00, or by
Email: EMAIL@ferris.edu, where EMAIL = dekkerm
Office Phone: (231) 591-2566
Department Phone: (231) 591-2565
FAX: (231) 591-2627
Ferris State University
Big Rapids, MI 49307
graduating from Calvin College in 1998 with degrees in Mathematics (honors)
and Physics, I received my Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in May of
2004. My dissertation involved topology and analysis. I began
teaching at Ferris State University in the fall of 2003.
Mathematical activities I've been involved in the past few years:
- Teaching mathematics
online: I developed the math department's first fully online course, an
adaptation of Math 325: College Geometry, for the Fall 2005
semester. Since then I've also developed Math 324: Fundamental
Concepts of Mathematics for an online offering.
mathematical competitions: The MATH Challenge, the
Lower Michigan Mathematics Competition, and the math department's Problem of the Week competition. Ferris State
took first in the 30th annual LMMC in the spring of 2006, becoming only
the 5th school to win the competition, joining Calvin, Hope, Kalamazoo,
- Spreading the joy of
topology: For the most part, "topology" is not a word
used much outside the realm of mathematics, and whenever someone
asks, I make it clear that it is not "topography" - nothing
concerning maps and elevations here. I usually describe topology
as the study of the geometric properties of shapes that don't change
under deformation - it is not concerned with geometric concepts like
volume or surface area. Basically, topologists consider shapes to
be infinitely "stretchy" or "malleable". To a
topologist, a circle, an oval, and a square are the same (although they
sometimes might get fussy about the corners that a square has).
Similarly, a basketball, a football, and a balloon are all topologically
the same. On the other hand, although a basketball and an inner
tube are both hollow surfaces, they are topologically different because
of the "hole" through the center of the inner tube.
There's no way you could take a "malleable" basketball and
deform it into an inner tube without some ripping, tearing. or
gluing. Topologists state and study such things in a precise and
formal (mathematical!) way.