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Illustration of a briefcase with different stickers of math conferences OSU students attended.

OSU students attend major mathematics conferences

OSU Mathematics students often attend and contribute to national and international mathematics conferences. Two of the largest are the Annual Meeting of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and the Joint Mathematics Meeting (JMM), “the largest mathematics meeting in the world,” which includes the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).

Students point to the networking opportunities, the workshops on topics beyond the scope of the traditional curriculum, and the excellent presentations by world-renowned researchers as reasons for attending. But the most rewarding experiences come from active participation and contribution.

The activity of our students not only increases the visibility of our program but also provides to them critical supplementary professional opportunities. The SIAM Annual Meeting this past summer was held in Portland, Oregon. As one of only two student chapters in the state, the OSU student chapter was called upon to help out with local arrangements and welcoming of students from around the world. Our chapter helped create the Local Portland Attractions Student Social Events Guide, and several of our students volunteered at the registration desk.

OSU Mathematics graduate students presenting posters or talks included Joe Umhoefer, Diana Gonzalez, Will Mayfield, Choah Shin, Azhar Alhammali, and Sandeep Koranne. Choah and Azhar additionally participated in the Professional Development Evening, where students learned an "inside-out approach". While more than a dozen OSU students attended, our official SIAM Chapter Representative was Joe Umhoefer. Joe was invited to attend the Leadership Breakfast, where students meet and network with each other as well as with faculty and professional leaders of SIAM.

“It was a good opportunity to learn what other graduate students have done to make their SIAM student chapters successful, and to interact with mathematicians with advanced careers to learn how they may have transitioned from academia to national labs or industry.”

In addition to an invited talk in a minisymposium, Joe presented a poster as the OSU student chapter representative. During this poster session he met a researcher at the Army Research Lab, at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD, who invited him to give a seminar at ARL in November. Furthermore, due to connections made at the SIAM Career Fair, Joe has been a part-time telecommuting intern at Solid Modeling Solutions, Inc., in Bellevue, WA, since October.

This year, JMM was held in Baltimore, MD. Despite the distance, seven OSU Math graduate students attended and presented talks or posters: Charles Camacho, Michael Renne, Claire Gibbons, Naveen Somasunderam, Sarah Hagen, Allison Arnold-Roksandich, and Zheting Dong. Sources of travel funding included the AMS Travel Grant and the Graduate School Travel Award. The opportunities for networking, professional development, and engagement with the broader mathematical community at JMM are too numerous to list. However students especially appreciated the Graduate School Fair and the Employment Center. The Employment Center is an in-person opportunity to interview for (usually academic) positions in math. While it is free for students to apply, most are typically only selected for one or two interviews.

Students standing around a table during the JMM Fair 2019.

OSU Math table at the JMM Graduate School Fair.

The Graduate School Fair is an opportunity for undergraduate students to meet representatives from mathematical sciences graduate programs from universities all over the country. This year the OSU table was organized by Sarah Hagen, although many other students and faculty pitched in. The students served as ambassadors for our department and engaged with prospective students, sharing their experiences in our graduate programs as well as their own current research. Perhaps as importantly, the student representatives personify the culture and climate of our department. For Sarah, her path has come full circle. Five years ago the Joint Math Meeting also happened to be held in Baltimore. Professor Tom Dick organized OSU’s very first table at the Graduate School Fair, and then-prospective student Sarah stopped by for an extended conversation. She recalls that his friendly and open personality made her feel very positively about attending OSU.

“I never would have guessed that 5 years later I would be organizing the booth myself, with Tom at my side, at the very same conference, in the very same city!”

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