Gaining greater insight in everyday life through the application of mathematics

Preparing students for graduate studies and their future careers is a principal focus at Elon University, particularly in the Arts and Sciences. The applied mathematics degree will accommodate either of these paths.

Offered by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Mathematics is designed to develop critical and practical thinking and to provide techniques of mathematical analysis that apply to scientific and industrial situations. Applied mathematics majors learn to describe the physical and biological world through mathematics and how to effectively communicate those descriptions orally and in writing.

Many students who are mathematically oriented and have interests in other areas are attracted to the applied mathematics degree due to the potential for future employment in a quantitative environment. As they progress through their coursework, some students find that they enjoy the field and want to explore the field further through graduate studies. The applied mathematics program provides these students with a coherent program that builds the foundation necessary to successfully make that transition, which will ultimately lead to a career in a quantitatively intense field or to further study in applied mathematics. A minor in applied mathematics is also being offered.

The most rewarding aspect of my academic experience at Elon was the application of arithmetical skills and theories to real-world events. The practice of using my ‘math toolbox’ to predict future trends or model biological interactions not only presented challenges for me to tackle, but also gave meaning to all the pure mathematics I had learned in the classroom.

Greg Mader ’11 Senior Researcher at RTI Health Solutions

Comprehensive curriculum

Applied mathematics focuses on the development and study of mathematical descriptions of the physical world. Applied mathematical techniques are used to gain additional insight for a variety of other disciplines. The applied mathematics program is a good option for students who are interested in majoring in a quantitative discipline that synthesizes a love of mathematics with an inquisitive nature toward the physical world.

Applied mathematics majors will be required to take courses that are focused on these mathematical tools as well as a modeling course that emphasizes the need for practical thinking and careful understanding of the systems being described mathematically. The major includes the option of a sequence in an allied field so that students may become familiar with a particular field outside mathematics or the option of additional mathematical electives for students planning to pursue graduate level applied mathematics. As the study of applied mathematics involves the incorporation of various techniques, applied mathematics students are also expected to become familiar with some computer programming and some statistical techniques.

As with most mathematical disciplines, applied mathematics is linear in nature. Material covered early in the major will be utilized, expanded upon, and sometimes verified in later courses. Applied mathematics students will be required to do either a research project or an internship focused on an area tied to an allied discipline so that the tools and methods are used in a natural context.

Research Opportunities

Applied mathematics majors are encouraged to conduct original research mentored by experienced faculty members who are always accessible to students. Many majors participate in a capstone seminar that includes a research project. Students prepare formal papers based on their research and present them to an audience of peers. Students will also have the opportunity to present their research findings at Elon’s annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF), the department’s fall Senior Seminar Day, or at national conferences.

Experienced Faculty

Elon applied mathematics majors learn from and work alongside dynamic faculty who blend professional experience, academic training, creativity, dedication, and a passion for teaching. They build close ties with students and are available to offer their assistance and expertise. They have earned numerous awards for excellence in teaching and mentoring and have contributed to the field through their research and publications in major journals.

The applied mathematics program is led by Dr. Karen Yokley, whose research primarily centers on mathematical applications to biology and toxicology, frequently focusing on ordinary differential equation models, optimization techniques, and sensitivity analyses. She joined the Elon faculty in 2008 after completing a post-doctoral fellowship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Fellows Program

Exceptional high school students planning to major in statistics could qualify for Honors Fellows, Teaching Fellows, and Elon College Fellows, a challenging program in the College of Arts and Sciences. Elon’s Fellows programs offer scholarships, special course offerings, study abroad grants and much more. View the Elon Fellows programs Website for more information.

After Graduation

Students majoring in applied mathematics will learn quantitative skills that will help them in almost any career involving problem solving. The degree requires less mathematical theory than the pure mathematics degree but gives students the opportunity to have a stronger emphasis on an outside area of study such as physics, chemistry, biology, or economics, since they learn how mathematical techniques can be applied to problems from that chosen field.

A degree in applied mathematics can lead to a variety of professions. Applied mathematical skills are assets to employers in financial and technical industries. Furthermore, an applied mathematics degree provides a strong foundation for students who want to pursue graduate degrees in areas of public health, biomathematics, or operations research. Graduate school is required for students interested in teaching at the college level and is recommended for anyone pursuing specialties in applied mathematics.