University of Minnesota
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Rina Ashkenazi

Ph.D., Academic Director  MCFAM

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.)


Carlos Tolmasky

Assistant Professor

Dr. Carlos Tolmasky is an Assistant Professor and Associate Director for Industrial Programs at the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) at the University of Minnesota. He was part of the founding team of industry practitioners and academics who developed the Master of Financial Mathematics (MFM) program within MCFAM. Since the inception of the MFM he has continued to teach the yearlong MFM course sequence called Mathematical Theory Applied in Finance¯. Prior to his full time appointment at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Tolmasky was a derivatives trader at Cargill Petroleum. He joined Cargill in 1996 as a member of their Research Group focusing on the development and implementation of derivatives models for fixed income and commodities markets. He later joined the petroleum group as a "desk quant" and, more recently, as a derivatives/relative value trader. He holds an undergraduate degree (Licenciado) from the University of Buenos Aires and a PhD in mathematics from the University of Washington.


Tzu-Wei Yang

MCFAM Post Doc

Dr. Tzu-Wei Yang was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University's Department of Mathematics prior to joining MCFAM. He got his PhD from the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford University where his advisor was Dr. George C. Papanicolaou, the Robert Grimmett Professor of Mathematics at Stanford. Dr. Yang's research interests cover stochastic differential equations, financial mathematics and uncertainty quantification. Dr. Yang also has a B.S in Applied Mathematics from National Chiao Tung University, and an MS in Electrical Engineering from National Taiwan University in Taiwan. More details on his current research can be found at


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. 


Elena Yudovina

Ph.D., MCFAM Postdoc

Dr. Yudovina will complete her National Science Foundation (NSF) Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Michigan in the summer of 2014. She earned her PhD in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge in the UK in 2012 under Prof. Frank Kelly and a BA summa cum laude in Mathematics in 2008 from Harvard University. Elena's research interests include queueing theory, change-point problems, and compressed sensing. She has been awarded various prestigious fellowships such as the NSF Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in 2012 as well as an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2008. She was a consultant at the Center for Statistics Consultation and Research (CSCAR) at the University of Michigan in 2014, a summer visitor at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs in 2010 and 2011, and part of a cancer modeling project at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 2008. Dr. Yudovina has assisted statistical software workshops at CSCAR in Michigan, supervised undergraduates in mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and has been a course assistant at Harvard and a counsellor at the Ross Summer Mathematics Program. For more detail on Elena's research and activities go to:


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 Urbanaā€“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.


Robin Dixon

MCFAM Office Support Assistant

Robin Dixon has worked as an Administrative Assistant for over 18 years. She brings to this position, strong organizational, interpersonal and technical skills along with the ability to multi-task effectively. Her duties include being the first point of contact for MCFAM, providing information about curriculum, actuarial exam workshops, as well as assisting the Academic Directors and our many MCFAM students with a variety of administrative duties that help increase the efficiency of MCFAM and its programs.


Address: 127 Vincent Hall, 206 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455     Phone: 612-625-2004     Contact the School of Math