Faculty Profile

Computer Science Faculty

Greta Pangborn, PhD

Computer Science and Information Services Department Chair, Associate Professor of Computer Science
View Curriculum Vitae

B.S., M.S., Ph.D. Cornell University

Areas of Expertise:

Computational optimization and algorithms. Recent applications I have  looked at include: self-assembling DNA nanostructures, VLSI chip layout, and unit rectangle visibility graphs.

Courses I Teach:

  • Data Structures & Algorithms
  • eCommerce
  • Introduction to Computing
  • Machine Organization
  • Programming Languages for Information Systems

My Saint Michael's:

I am always struck by the number of Saint Michael's students who participate in volunteer activities to make a difference both locally and globally, and I really appreciate the strong sense of community. My classes are small, so I am able to get to know my students well. We are able to have events, such as class dinners, that would not be possible at a larger institution. There also are many independent study and student research opportunities available that might not be possible at a larger institution. In my five first years at Saint Michael's I have been able to work with 10 students on projects beyond the scope of an ordinary class.

My students are smart, hardworking, and friendly. I am always impressed, not just by their performance in my classes (which is very good), but by the wide range of their interests beyond the field of computer science.

I really enjoy all of my classes, but if pressed to pick a favorite I would say Data Structures and Algorithms, which is closely tied to my area of research.

Research Interests:

My research interests are in my areas of expertise: Computational optimization and algorithms. Recent applications I have looked at include: self-assembling DNA nanostructures, VLSI chip layout, and unit rectangle visibility graphs.

Self Assembly Design Strategies

I developed a Java program for addressing various micro-electronics industry computer chip-layout programs such as floor-planning and automating small problematic configurations (2007). I am also co-author of the journal article, "Force-directed floorplanning with flexible blocks" (Congressus Numerantium, 2006).

I am one of three professors who earned Saint Michael's College a $578,500 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant enables Saint Michael's to provide 20 scholarships in math and computer science.

Favorite Famous Quote About My Field:

"Computers are good at following instructions, but not at reading your mind." - D. Knuth

Jo Ellis-Monaghan, professor and chair of mathematics, joined with her colleague Greta Pangborn of the computer science faculty to run the “Summer Combo in Vermont” conference, which focuses upon the field of study of combinatorics. Saint Michael’s students under the direction of Jo and Greta were among presenters of posters at that conference: Jessica Greene, David Perry and Brenna Smith joined another in presenting “Knotted and Unknotted A-trails Embedded on n-Tori.” Also, Anna Cook, Alana Houlihan, Rebecca Rouleau were among those presenting “Design Strategies for DNA Self-Assembly.” Jo also was an organizer when the Mathematics Department hosted a regional workshop on best practices in teaching calculus, with participants from Harvard, Middlebury, Dartmouth, UConn, and other institutions in the Northeast. Also, Jo and Greta organized a Discrete Math Days of the Northeast conference -- one in a series of one-day conferences supported by the National Security Agency through the Steering Committee, and also by Saint Michaels College. In the past, Discrete Math Days have been held at Bard College, Dartmouth College, Saint Michael's College, Middlebury College, Skidmore College, SUNY Albany, SUNY Binghamton, University of Rhode Island, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Wesleyan University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and others. Also recently,, Jo and Greta and some of their Saint Michael’s students had a paper accepted to the peer-reviewed journal Theoretical Computer Science.  Jo also is editor-in-chief of the publication PRIMUS.
(posted November 2016)

Zsu Kadas, professor of mathematics, gave a presentation entitled “A Short Course in Population Dynamics” at the Spring Meeting of the Northeast Section of the Mathematical Association of America held June 3-4, 2016, at the University of New England in Biddeford, ME. Greta Pangborn, professor of computer science, also attended the meeting along with four Saint Michael’s undergraduates, Anna Cook, Jessica Greene, Brenna Smith, and David Perry, who are engaged in summer research on Graph Theory and Self-Assembly of DNA. Zsu also gave a talk entitled “Population Models and the Logistic Equation: the Importance of Being Discrete” in the Applied Mathematics session at the XXIII Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference held on April 2, 2016 at Saint Michael’s College.
(posted June 2016)

Greta Pangborn, associate professor of computer science, and Jo Ellis-Monaghan, professor of mathematics, on July 21, 2015, hosted the conference “Summer Combo in Vermont” on the Saint Michael’s College campus. The (more or less) annual small and informal conference brings together regional cominatorics scholars “for a day of collaboration, congeniality and an opportunity to learn about one another’s investigations,” including talks, speakers and poster presentations. Other organizers with Jo and Greta were Melanie Brown of Champlain College and Christino Tamon of Clarkson University. Combinatorics is the branch of mathematics dealing with combinations of objects belonging to a finite set in accordance with certain constraints, such as those of graph theory.
(posted September 2015)

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