Three Nebraska Wesleyan University students had the opportunity to participate in the world’s largest math meeting.
"The Joint Mathematics Meeting (JMM) is the biggest mathematics conference in the world — usually somewhere around 6,000 attendees —and it's held annually in a different city,” said NWU mathematics professor Austin Mohr, who accompanied the students to Seattle, Wash., in January.
JMM brings together serious mathematicians to present research and learn from one another. The meeting offers a multitude of opportunities to students strongly considering careers in mathematic-related fields through research presentations, seminars, and meetings with potential employers.
"We all had the opportunity to present,” said Ann Marie Murray, a senior mathematics major from Lincoln. “I presented at the student poster session where I was able to explain my research and receive feedback on my presentation skills and tips for future research from number theory mathematicians.”
Junior math and physics major Drew Meier said the experience puts him and his fellow students at an advantage for their future plans.
"This meeting was a great benefit to me as I plan on attending graduate school," he said. "It gave me an idea as to what my future may look like."
The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) encourages attendance by college students and provides funding to make the opportunity possible. In return, students must present their own research.
Mohr said he sought out three NWU students who conducted collaborative research with him and expressed interest in attending graduate school. Each student submitted a research proposal to the MAA, and once accepted, received funding from the organization and Nebraska Wesleyan to attend the conference.
Mohr said he not only wanted to provide his students with opportunities to further explore their interests in mathematics, but gain a thorough understanding of all the subject entails.
“The popular image of a genius working in isolation is not accurate,” said Mohr. “Mathematicians meet frequently to share ideas, offer conjectures, and pursue dead ends. Only after much collaboration and hard work does an interesting theorem arise. I think peeking behind the curtain helps to demystify the process and allows them to envision themselves as a part of the community."
The opportunity to attend the world’s largest math meeting only solidified Murray’s future plans.
"Math is truly what I want to do with my life,” she said. “Hearing other people talk about their research or job and how exciting math is throughout the process showed me that I am not making a mistake pursuing this field."
Story by Quinn Hullett, public relations intern.