Professor Ashkenazi is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota and the Academic Director of MCFAM.
She is responsible for MCFAM academic standards, admissions, MCFAM research teams, curriculum development and academic advising.
Professor Ashkenazi has a Ph.D. and a M.Sc. in Theoretical Physics from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel and a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Physics from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.
Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, Rina spent five years in the Mathematics Department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Rina’s research interests focus mainly on modeling complex systems in a variety of disciplines, such as physics, biology, finance and risk management, and she has taught a variety of courses related to Financial and Actuarial Mathematics for the past seven years, including Introduction to Probability, Stochastic Processes, Actuarial Mathematics, and Theory of Interest.
In addition, Professor Ashkenazi has five years of experience in Industry as an Algorithms Engineer in two major high tech companies – Orbotech Limited in Yavneh, Israel and Applied Materials in Rehovot, Israel.
Laurie A. Derechin – MBA, Executive Director MCFAM
Ms. Derechin is responsible for overall MCFAM operations, including student recruiting, external relations, internship and job placements, and developing partnerships with and support from the financial and actuarial mathematics sector. Ms. Derechin has over 25 years of business experience in a variety of industry sectors. She has been a hiring manager for many years and has experience identifying talented employees and helping them progress in their careers. Her expertise includes new product and organizational development, revenue and customer growth in highly competitive markets, and cross functional teamwork to improve customer satisfaction and company profitability. She was one of the founders and senior officers of Xcel
Energy’s wholly owned broadband subsidiary which grew to 47,000 customers in six years and was sold. She founded and was President and CEO of a Minnesota broadband company, Great River Communications Corp. Ms. Derechin was also an adult education teacher in Spain, and has an MBA from ESADE in Barcelona, Spain, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a teaching certification from OCR(Oxford, Cambridge and RSA.)
Zhen Liu –MCFAM Assistant Professor
Zhen Liu is an Assistant Professor within MCFAM (the Minnesota Center for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics) at the School of Mathematics - University of Minnesota. Prior to that he was an Assistant Professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at Missouri University of Science & Technology (formerly University of Missouri-Rolla) and served as the director of Laboratory for Investment & Financial Engineering (LIFE) from 2007 to 2012. He was visiting the Department of Industrial Engineering at Tsinghua University as a senior visiting scholar from July to December in 2009, and was a Givens Research Associate in Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory in 2003. He received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering & Management Sciences from Northwestern University in 2007.
His primary research interests are dynamic decision-making under uncertainties with applications in financial engineering/computational finance, energy and healthcare problems and interface between operations & finance.
He has been a consultant to a number of organizations including hedge funds and IT companies, and received a fellowship from the Institute on Computational Economics at the University of Chicago in 2006. He has been a reviewer for several journals, and chaired a number of sessions of international conferences. He is currently a member of INFORMS (Institute For Operations Research and Management Sciences) and SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics).
Elisabeth Kemajou – Ph.D., MCFAM Postdoc
Dr. Elisabeth Kemajou is a MCFAM Post Doc and an Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematics. She earned her Ph.D in July 2012 from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois (SIUC). Her research interests include Stochastic Analysis and Applications as well as Statistics. Since 2009, she has been an instructor at SIUC in the Mathematics Department teaching Probability, Linear Programming, Business Calculus and College Algebra. Dr. Kemajou has a strong background in teaching undergraduate mathematics such as Calculus I and II as well as Algebra. Prior to teaching at SIUC, she spent 12 years teaching high school mathematics in Cameroon. Dr. Kemajou now teaches in the MFM program and will continue her research in the fields of financial and actuarial mathematics.
Aileen Conlon Lyle – MAAA, FCAS, Actuarial Adviser and Lecturer
Ms. Lyle is responsible for teaching actuarial classes for MCFAM, as well as advising actuarial students on academic issues and providing career counseling. She is also involved in developing partnerships with the actuarial business sector. Ms. Lyle has over thirty years of actuarial expertise in the property/casualty and health insurance industries. She has worked for Milliman, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, the Travelers Companies, and CNA. She has extensive experience in pricing, product development, reserving and financial forecasting for both property/casualty and health insurance products. She is a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries and a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society. She has a Bachelors of Science in Actuarial Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. She is a board member for several non-profit organizations in the Twin Cities, and is a commissioner for the city of Woodbury, MN.
Doreen Vescelius – MCFAM Teaching Specialist and Actuarial Academic Advisor
Doreen’s background includes 12 years of work experience and a degree in Mathematics with an Actuarial Science Specialization from the University of Minnesota. She brings strong analytical, organizational and leadership skills to her role within MCFAM. She ran her own small business for many years and has worked with the elderly and disabled. Her teaching and mentoring includes diverse experiences within K-12 education and the Boy Scouts of America. She has tutored at college, high school, and elementary levels. Most recently Doreen taught math to immigrant populations at the English Learning Center in Minneapolis. Her analytical experience includes assignments for Founder Memorial Library/Northern Illinois University Libraries, including: library records management prior to online conversion and reestablishing a gifts and exchanges program. She has worked more recently to provide compliant record-keeping and spreadsheet analysis for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Doreen has a strong understanding of US and State Health Care Systems and it continues to be an on-going area of interest for her. She has passed both the FM and the P exams, is currently studying for the MLC exam.
Bonny Fleming – Administrative Assistant
Ms. Fleming has worked at the University of Minnesota in a variety of administrative roles for over 30 years.
She has been with the Master of Financial Mathematics (MFM) Program within MCFAM since its inception in 2007.
Ms. Fleming is involved in the administrative aspects of MCFAM and the School of Mathematics, Graduate Studies programs, including student orientations, admissions processes, on-going student inquiries and support, as well as many other administrative tracking and database management duties.
In addition to her responsibilities relating to MCFAM, she is also the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Graduate Studies within the School of Mathematics.
Among other things, Ms. Fleming's expertise includes problem solving, making administrative systems more efficient and multi-tasking.