Jessalyn Bolkema

PhD Candidate
Department of Mathematics
University of Nebraska

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About Me

I have been a graduate student at UNL since the fall of 2012. My advisor is Judy L. Walker, and my primary research interests are in algebraic coding theory. I like graph theory, algebra, and algebraic geometry. I have also taken courses in electrical engineering. I earned a BA in Math from Hope College in 2012 and an MS in Math from UNL in 2014.

Click here for my curriculum vitae (March 2016).


My current research activities are in algebraic coding theory, and in particular, in graph realizations of codes for message-passing decoding algorithms. In general, I'm excited about the interplay of graph theory, combinatorics, or algebraic geometry and coding theory. I'm also interested in advances in undergraduate math education.

  • Hunting Rabbits on the Hypercube is on the Arxiv [1701.08726]!
  • Diagnostic Effects of an Early Mastery Activity in College Algebra and Precalculus accepted for publication!
  • Variations on the McEliece Cryptosystem is on the Arxiv [1612.05085]!
  • Invited talk at the AMS Central Sectional.
  • Past events:


    Courses taught as principal instructor:
  • Analytic Geometry and Calculus I (Math 106) - Fall 2015
  • College Algebra (Math 101) - Summer 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014
  • Additional educational roles:
  • Associate Convener for College Algebra (Math 101) - Fall 2014
  • Course development, including lesson plans, worksheets, and assessments, for College Algebra (Math 101) - Summer 2014
  • Courses taught as teaching assistant:
  • Nebraska Math: Primarily Math (Math 800P) - Summer 2014
  • Math Excel Recitation for Analytic Geometry and Calculus II (Math 107) - Spring 2013
  • Recitations for Analytic Geometry and Calculus II (Math 107) - Fall of 2012

  • Publications and Talks:
  • Holistic Course Redesign - A Study from the Trenches (with A. Donsig) (UNL Fall Symposium, November 2015)
  • N. Wakefield, J. Champion, J. Bolkema*, D. Dailey. Diagnostic Effects of an Early Mastery Activity in College Algebra and Precalculus (Submitted, September 2015)
  • Additional information:
  • Primarily Math is one of many really excellent and non-standard opportunities offered at UNL. It's a NebraskaMath program, part of a statewide partnership that exists to support and train in-service teachers of mathematics at all levels.
  • Here is a press release about Brace Labs, the building that is now home to most of UNL's pre-calculus level courses. This building was redesigned and remodeled over the summer of 2014 to facilitate active learning.
  • Projects

  • Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics (NCUWM) is my all-time, bar-none favorite conference ever, both as a participant and as an organizer. Registration always fills up early, so check it out now!
  • I served as the math department representative on UNL's Graduate Student Association.
  • I really like teaching college algebra. There is a department-wide initiative happening to transform pre-calc at UNL, and it has made my job so much cooler and more interesting. I got to write lesson plans and mentor new instructors and watch students engage with mathematics in really exciting ways.
  • Once upon a time, I got to be an expert in the history of cryptography. The Great Plains National Security Education Consortium is a really neat program for college students/future members of the intelligence community that I worked with one summer.
  • Odds and ends:

    Math Club presentation on cryptography, coding theory, and code-based cryptography is here.

    My not-strictly-mathematical interests include knitting, bread making, reading, running, houseplant nurturing, film photography, speaking french, and playing cello. I like hanging out in airports and hiking through the mountains. As of early 2017, I've completed four half-marathons, and I'm registered for a fifth.

    The ultimate honor of my life: there was a SET tournament at NASIT in 2014, and I emerged victorious.

    My advisor won a fancy award, and someone made this nice video. (Look for me and enjoy our very photogenic research meetings!)