Math majors present at regional conference, one receives award
Jacie Cooper '18, Morgan Ferguson '19, Nicholas Hadgis '18, Peter Komlofske '19, Olivia Lennox-Sanzone '18, Kiley Shannon '18 and Janae Williams '18 presented at the 13th Annual Regional Mathematics and Statistics Conference held at UNC-Greensboro on Nov. 3-4, 2017.
Jacie Cooper '18, Morgan Ferguson '19, Nicholas Hadgis '18, Peter Komlofske '19, Olivia Lennox-Sanzone '18, Kiley Shannon '18 and Janae Williams '18 presented at the 13th Annual Regional Mathematics and Statistics Conference held at UNC-Greensboro on Nov. 3-4, 2017. Elon faculty in attendance were Assistant Professor Kristen Mazur, Lecturer Ryne Vankrevelen, and A.L. Hook Associate Professor Chad Awtrey.
A total of 232 students and faculty attended the conference, including 22 from Elon University. Elon accounted for 18 percent of all undergraduate presentations; the highest percentage out of all 40 participating institutions.
Among the 55 student presentations, nine individuals were recognized with an award for outstanding presentation. Ferguson was one of these recipients this year, marking the fourth time an Elon student has received an award at this conference. Previous award winners include Alison Miller (2012), Nicole Soltz (2014) and Kelly Reagan (2016). Hadgis also participated as a panelist on Saturday afternoon, where he discussed the benefits of engaging in undergraduate research.
Information on student presentations is as follows:
- Cooper presented "Regression analysis of significant variables in women's lacrosse."\. She was mentored by Mazur.
- Ferguson presented "Face recognition on the MORPH-II database." This research was conducted as part of the summer NSF-funded REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) Program at UNC-Wilmington.
- Hadgis presented "Classifying Eisenstein polynomials of degree 2p." He was mentored by Awtrey.
- Komlofske presented "Cyclic polynomials of degree p^2 and p^3." He was mentored by Awtrey.
- Lennox-Sanzone presented "Modeling throws in ultimate frisbee." She was mentored by Mazur.
- Shannon presented "Symmetries of degree 8 polynomials." She was mentored by Awtrey.
- Janae Williams presented "Counting p-power extensions of the p-adic numbers." She was mentored by Awtrey.
As one of the conference's main organizers, Awtrey co-led a faculty development workshop on mentoring undergraduate research with Kathryn Leonard, professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Leonard and Awtrey are recognized leaders in undergraduate research.
Leonard serves as director of the NSF-funded Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics and has received mentoring awards from the Mathematical Association of America and the National Science Foundation. Awtrey serves as an associate director of Undergraduate Research at Elon and has received mentoring awards from the Mathematical Association of America and the Council on Undergraduate Research.
The plenary speaker for the conference was Talitha Washington, who currently serves as associate professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and as a program officer at the National Science Foundation. Washington's talk focused on the 2016 film "Hidden Figures." Based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, "Hidden Figures" tells the story of black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the early 1960s. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury, which was the first human spaceflight program in the United States. The film also features Octavia Spencer as NASA supervisor Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monae as NASA engineer Mary Jackson.
Members of the Elon community may remember Washington from her visit to Elon on May 3. She gave a colloquium talk titled "How (Mathematical) Modeling Can Explain Our World," and she was the featured speaker at the Celebration Dinner for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.