Dr. Dyana Harrelson

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Instruction
Profile photo of Dr. Dyana Harrelson

Dr. Dyana Harrelson’s teaching responsibilities include general education math courses,
calculus courses and statistics courses. When teaching math to a general education audience,
her goal is to provide a positive experience for students regardless of their proficiency in
algebra. She anchors math learning in real-world topics including voting, gerrymandering and
taxes. In her courses for math majors, she likes to experiment with active learning and
alternative grading methods.
Another specialty is teaching and coaching younger math students. Before rejoining the Hope
faculty full-time in 2018, for three years she taught algebra, geometry and pre-calculus online
through Holland Christian High School’s Home School Connection Program. She partnered with
a department colleague to create a grant-funded plan to improve mentoring of math teams in
Holland’s Black River Public School (K-12), where she has coached a middle school math team
since 2016. In 2021 she piloted a program to engage Hope secondary education students as
paid assistant coaches.
Dr. Harrelson began teaching at Hope in 2000. She took several breaks for other pursuits; her
current tenure began in 2018. She will serve through mid-2026 as the math and natural science
director for the Anchor Plan, Hope College’s general education program. She also advises
Hope’s chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, a national mathematics honor society, and is active in the
organization at the national level.

Areas of expertise

Dr. Harrelson was trained in probability — in particular, modeling a sequence of random
events. One possible sequence of events would be to repeatedly roll a six-sided dice and record
the value (1-6). Every time, you have a one in six chance of rolling a one and thus writing down
1; knowing the value of the previous rolls gives no indication of what the next roll will be.
Alternately, one could roll a six-sided die repeatedly but report the average of each two
consecutive rolls. In this case, if a 1 is written down, one has rolled a 1 twice in a row. The next
number written will be the average of the last 1 and the new roll, and will thus be at most
(1+6)/2. However, the fact that you have a 1 written down only impacts the very next number.
Two or more numbers later can still be anything. Dr. Harrelson wants to know if there are any
other ways to construct a sequence where the memory from a roll of 1 lasts for exactly one


  • Ph.D., mathematics (probability), Georgia Institute of Technology, 2000
  • M.S., applied mathematics, Georgia Institute of Technology, 1996
  • B.S., architectural design, Clemson University, 1993


  • “Redesigning GEMS 100 to Focus on Social Justice and Equity,” Hope College Provost’s Office Course Design Grant, 2023
  • “Integration of Vertical Mentoring into the Black River Public School Math Teams,” Mathematical Association of American Dolciani grant, with S. Edwards, 2020

Outside the College

Dr. Harrelson enjoys spending time with her husband and four children. According to her
children she is a math teacher, even at home. After all, what 5-year-old shouldn’t ponder how
long a loaf of banana bread will last if you eat exactly half of what is left every day? The answer
should be forever, but the loaf still only lasted three days.
In May 2024, that 5-year-old is graduating from college. Dr. Harrelson’s family is making a long-
anticipated trip to Italy. Two highlights of the trip will be the Galileo Museum in Florence
(where the earliest mathematical tools are on display) and a cooking class to prepare pasta and
gelato. Maybe if they eat half of their remaining gelato every day, they can bring some delicious
gelato home to the states!

Profile photo of Dr. Dyana Harrelson
Dr. Dyana Harrelson

Phone Number616.395.7679

VanderWerf Hall 209 27 Graves Place Holland, MI 49423
A map showing the location for Dr. Dyana Harrelson VanderWerf Hall 209 27 Graves Place Holland MI 49423