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March 22, 2005

Putnam Math Team

Hoang Le, Toan Phan, and Rob Rhoades

LEWISBURG, Pa. — A team of Bucknell students finished 10th out of 411 schools in this year's William Lowell Putnam Mathematics competition.

Participants spend six hours in two sittings trying to solve 12 challenging problems in the annual North American mathematics contest for college students.

Team members were sophomore Hoang Minh Le, junior Toan Vu Phan and senior Rob Rhoades.

"Bucknell's team defeated all liberal arts colleges in the nation and most of the Ivy League schools," said Ulrich Daepp, associate professor of mathematics and department chair.

"This sort of success is not a fluke since the team came in 29th last year with two of the same students. The year before that, Bucknell finished 50th."

Thirteen Bucknell students were included in the 3,733 of the very best mathematics students in North America who competed in December. Students prepare for the competition by meeting year-round to discuss strategies and solve problems.

The winning teams were Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Duke University, University of Waterloo, and the California Institute of Technology.

The next five are called `Honorable Mention" teams and are given in alphabetical order: Bucknell University, University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University, Stanford University, and University of Toronto.

This year's faculty adviser to the team is Professor Greg Adams, who explains that "the students organized problem solving seminars that were attended by faculty. Their activities and enthusiasm have enriched the academic life of the mathematics department."

Bucknell students who competed are: Eric Bundy, Brockport, Pa.; Arica Fong, Los Altos, Calif.; Tom Goodman, Rochester, N.Y.; Matthew Hesser; Coal Township, Pa.; Shihong Khor, Penang, Malaysia; Greg Mokodean, Canton, Ohio; Hoang Minh Le, Hanoi, Vietnam; Minh Pham, Hanoi, Vietnam; Toan Vu Phan, Hanoi, Vietnam; Rob Rhoades, Buffalo, N.Y.; Rachel Tutmaher, Sugar Grove, Pa.; Jeff Ultee, Hillsborough, N.J.; and Mark Veillette, Naugatuck, Conn.

Begun in 1938, the competition was designed to stimulate a healthful rivalry in mathematical studies in the colleges and universities of the United States and Canada. The examination later was placed under the administration of the Mathematical Association of America.

Additional information about the Bucknell team can be found at and information about the competition can be found on the official website at


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