This semester, five William Smith students attended the 12th annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics. Recently, the women gathered in Napier Hall and presented a talk on campus “Between Complexity and Real Life Mathematics” that gave them the chance to share with other Hobart and William Smith students what they learned at the conference. The group discussed the benefits of going to such a conference as well as how attending it has influenced their understanding of math research and changed their future plans.
Desislava Byanova ’10, Nanzi Jiang ’13, Christine Luongo ’10, Lisa Maticic ’10 and Katelyn Tyson ’10 spoke at the three-day conference in Lincoln, Nebraska, that consisted of undergraduate presentations of students’ research, a panel discussion, a poster session, and breakout sessions.
The undergraduate presentations included topics such as The Development and Evaluation of a Geographic Profiling Algorithm, Stochastic Modeling and Analysis of Unemployment, Analyzing a Deficient Height Sample of the Pennsylvania National Guardsmen and Cost Conscious Voters in Referendum Elections. This research was conducted and then presented by students across the nation from colleges and universities including Stanford, University of Oregon, Westminster, Northwestern and Concordia. From these presentations, the group of William Smith students learned about some of the mathematics research conducted at the undergraduate level by women in a variety of institutions as well as how mathematics is applied to numerous career fields such as politics and biology.
Jiang said the conference proved to her that math is needed to conduct any form of research and that attending the conference helped confirm her interest in the field. The panel discussion consisted of eight graduate students who gave advice about preparing for, visiting, applying to, and choosing a graduate school. They also gave tips on how to stand out as an applicant.
Following the panel discussion, the students attended various breakout sessions of their choice, including careers with a bachelor’s degree, career and graduate school in statistics, and transitioning from a small college to graduate school.
“We heard how a mathematics major can be put to use beyond the college level, in both professional and academic settings, and what to expect from graduate programs in the mathematics field,” said Maticic.
At dinner, the attendees had the chance to talk with professionals who work in the field. Maticic said the trip was an amazing experience. “It was great to meet people with the same goals and interests.”
The trip was sponsored by the Offices of the President and the Provost, the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and the William Smith Deans. The Mathematics and Computer Science Department will organize the trip, which is open to all William Smith students, again this fall.
“This conference was a great opportunity for our students,” says Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Erika King. “I had a student who was inspired to change her mathematics minor to a mathematics major after attending. I hope that students will take advantage of the opportunity to both attend and speak at the conference in the future.”