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Math majors and faculty shine at professional conference

A total of 13 math majors and faculty attended the 2017 Southeastern Sectional Meeting of the Mathematical Association of America, held at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, on March 9-11.

A total of 13 math majors and faculty attended the 2017 Southeastern Sectional Meeting of the Mathematical Association of America, held at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, on March 9-11.

Nathan Pool '17 presenting his research, "The Automatic Construction of Fractals of Arbitrary Dimension", mentored by Jeff Clark.

​Student attendees included the following math majors: Destiny Frett '20, Kylee Gomilla '20, Nick Hadgis '18, Peter Jakes '17, Erin Murnane '17, Nathan Pool '17, Ryan Rudinger '19 and Janae Williams '18. Math faculty attendees included Associate Professor Jim Beuerle, Professor Jeff Clark, Professor Todd Lee, Associate Professor Alan Russell and A.L. Hook Associate Professor Chad Awtrey.

In addition to attending many student talks, panels about career possibilities for math majors and plenary addresses by prominent mathematicians, the following students competed as a team against other schools in a multi-round game of Math Jeopardy: Frett, Hadgis, Jakes, and Murnane. The Elon team was exciting to watch, crushing the competition in the quarter- and semifinals.  During the final round, Elon jumped out to an early lead but eventually finished in 3rd place. Beuerle served as the Elon team coach and Russell served as one of the judges during initial rounds for non-Elon matchups.

Peter Jakes '17 and his mentor Chad Awtrey.  Jakes received a "Walt and Susan Patterson Award" for best presentation for his talk, "Higher Degree Polynomials and Their Solvability by Radicals."

​Pool and Jakes gave presentations. Pool's talk, "The Automatic Construction of Fractals of Arbitrary Dimension," discussed methods he developed to construct fractals of arbitrary dimension using a single function. Pool's project was mentored by Clark.

Jakes' talk, "Higher Degree Polynomials and Their Solvability by Radicals", outlined several research contributions Jakes has made to computing symmetry properties of polynomial roots. Jakes' talk was deemed meritorious by faculty judges, and he was awarded a "Walt and Susan Patterson Award" for best presentation; the award was accompanied by a cash prize. Jakes is an honors fellow and a Lumen Prize recipient. His research mentor is Awtrey.

Russell gave a presentation titled "Origami in Mathematics Education" in the Special Session on Mathematics and Art. In his talk, Russell shared an activity using origami in preparation for K-8 lesson plans with pre-service teachers at Elon.

Clark spoke on "Linear Inequalities: We Shouldn't Avoid Them" in the Contributed Session on Algebra, Number Theory, and Topology. His talk was about the Fourier-Motzkin technique for solving systems of linear inequalities. In addition to his talk, Clark also conducted official business in his role as Chair-Elect of the Section.  

Math Jeopardy team sporting 3rd place trophy and the outdated placard referring to us as "Elon College."

​On Thursday evening, Clark chaired the Executive Committee Meeting of section officers, filling in for Section Chair Patricia Humphrey who could not attend the meeting because of a death in her family.  On Friday afternoon, Clark presided at one of the Plenary Sessions, coordinating the giving of Section Teaching and Service Awards and introducting Tim Chartier, a plenary speaker. On Saturday morning, he chaired the Business Meeting of the Section, at the end of which Clark went from chair-elect to chair of the section to begin his two-year term.

Beuerle presented "Using Kahoot! in your Classroom" in the Special Session on Research on Teaching and Learning in Collegiate Mathematics. Beuerle incorporated a Live Kahoot! session with interactions from the audience. His talk addressed the pros and cons of the technology and how it was used in an Intro Statistics class in the Spring of 2017. Additionally, Beuerle participated in a workshop for "The Directors of Mathematics Tournaments" since he is co-chair of the NCCTM State math contest committee. Beuerle also served as an excellent bus driver for 12 of the Elon conference attendees.

Front row, left to right: Destiny Frett '20, Erin Murnane '17, Kylee Gomilla '20, Jim Beuerle.  Back row, left to right: Nathan Pool '17, Jeff Clark, Peter Jakes '17, Chad Awtrey, Alan Russell, Nick Hadgis '18, Janae Williams '18, Todd Lee.

Since Awtrey received the "Distinguished Teaching Award for Beginning Faculty Members" from the section last year, this year he gave a 50-minute "Distinguished Lecture for Students." His talk, "Undergraduate Research in Galois Theory," had two aims: (1) explain, with a preponderance of evidence, why participating in undergraduate research in mathematics provides students with skills and experiences that make them competitive for a variety post-college careers; (2) describe in detail a small sample of undergraduate research results his students have produced recently.

Lee served as official photographer of the trip. He also provided vocal music entertainment during the long bus rides, which was much appreciated by all (who were awake.)

Chad Awtrey,
3/25/2017 9:10 PM