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A room full of students working on a whiteboard with text that reads "Mathematics Graduate Appreciation and Research Showcase."

Preparing Career Ready Graduates: Mathematics Department Participates in Graduate Appreciation Week

Feature photo: participants at the poster session.

Graduate Appreciation week, held during March 31 to April 5, 2019, celebrated the achievements of Oregon State University graduate students in scholarship, research, teaching and service. The graduate school organized a number of events including a trivia night, lunch with the graduate school, drop in résumé review and visualize your bibliography competition.

Professional development workshops by visiting speaker, Dr. Karen Kelsky, author of the book “The Professor Is In”, were offered for graduate faculty and staff, and for students. Dr. Kelsky talked about what graduate advisors and programs need to do right now to help their students. For students looking ahead, Dr. Kelsky discussed how to target positions and prepare application materials, including cover letters, CVs/résumés, and other requested statements, plus the interview process and negotiating job offers.

The Department of Mathematics held its own Graduate Appreciation and Research Showcase to celebrate graduate appreciation week, which took place in the Mathematics and Statistics Learning Center (MSLC) on the evening of April 5, 2019. It was organized by the Graduate Committee consisting of Malgo Peszynska (chair), Christine Escher, David Finch, Elise Lockwood, Juan Restrepo, and Ralph Showalter, with substantial help from Joy King (Graduate contact) and Deanne Murray (Office Manager). The program consisted of Oral Blitz mini-lectures and poster presentations by graduate students, and professional development sessions presented by the participating faculty.

Elise Lockwood coordinated the judging for both the Posters and the Oral Blitz, which were judged on their introduction and motivation, creativity of display and methodology, organization and logical flow of material. A total of 15 presenters displayed posters or gave an oral blitz or did both.

Oral Blitz presentations were mini-lectures limited to 3 minutes. Juan Restrepo was the moderator. We had seven graduate students give oral presentations including Joe Umhoefer, Stephen Krughoff, Brady Bowen, Choah Shin, Azhar Alhammali, Patrick Donaghue, and Lisa Bigler. Judging the Oral Blitz, Christine Escher, David Finch, Nathan Gibson, David Pengelley, and Ralph Showalter awarded the first place prize of $50 to Stephen Krughoff. Congratulations to Stephen for a job well done!

Stephen Krughoff presenting in front of a screen.
Stephen Krughoff gives his winning oral blitz.

Posters were set up with logistic help from Branwen Purdy and Ralph Showalter. Thirteen graduate students displayed a wide variety of posters including Jose Fernandez, Allison Arnold-Rolsandich, Will Mayfield, Lisa Bigler, Alireza Hosseinkhan, Dallas Folster, Sebastian Naranjo, Adaline De Chenne, Branwen Purdy, Choah Shin, Huanqun Jiang, Azhar Alhammali, and Patrick Donaghue. A number of faculty judged the posters including Bill Bogley, Blessing Emerenini, Mary Flahive, Robert Higdon, and Mina Ossiander. The first place prize of $50 was shared by Branwen Purdy and Dallas Foster. Congratulations to both Branwen and Dallas!

Branwen Purdy presenting in front of her poster.
Branwen Purdy explains the research presented on her prize winning poster.

Professional Development and Career Advising were available in several concurrent sessions on Where,When & How to Apply (Malgo Peszynska), Research & teaching positions (David Finch), Teaching & research positions (Bill Bogley, David Pengelley, Elise Lockwood), Non-academic jobs - Actuarial & Financial (Mina Ossiander), Non-academic jobs - Lab & Industry (Malgo Peszynska, Juan Restrepo). In addition, all of the above faculty were available to comment and give advice on CVs and websites of the participants.

The oral blitz mini-lectures and the poster presentations provided to the participants invaluable preparation for presenting their research accomplishments at professional meetings and job interviews, experiences that are difficult to obtain before attending such important and life-changing professional encounters. These presentations led to many lively discussions among the participants. The professional development sessions provided additional perspectives on and expectations of the job markets and advice on how to negotiate job offers. In addition to the oral or poster presentations, some students discussed career issues in the professional development sessions, and others sought input on their CVs.

The mathematics graduate appreciation day was co-sponsored and funded by the Graduate School and the Department of Mathematics. We are pleased to report that this event was attended by 37 graduate students, 3 visiting graduate applicants, and 18 faculty and staff members. Additional funding for the "first round" of refreshments for students and the Graduate Committee was provided courtesy of the Joel Davis Faculty Excellence Award received by Graduate Chair Malgo Peszynska.

The mathematics department is strongly committed to student success and continually strives to provide professional development opportunities for our students to make them career ready and competitive in the job market. Students who missed the activities and events offered by the Graduate School and the Department of Mathematics during this year’s graduate appreciation week should keep these in mind for next year. A big thank you to all the students, faculty and staff that made our graduate appreciation day a big success!