Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Math Majors Present at Statewide Conference

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    Senior mathematics majors from Southwestern presented nine of the 25 student talks at the 8th Annual Texas Undergraduate Mathematics Conference. In the back row are (l-r) Andy Clarage, Sara Watson, David Scott Ryan, Yvette Niyomugaba, Ben Cardiff and Zachary Anglin. In the front row are (l-r) Nina Baccam, Yasmin Leon and Van (Zoe) Pham.

Students also perform well in problem-solving challenge

Senior mathematics majors from Southwestern presented nine of the 25 student talks at the 8th Annual Texas Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, which was held at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches Oct. 26-27, 2012. 

Two students presented talks based on their summer student-faculty research. Yvette Niyomugaba presented a talk on “Recycling toward a Better Earth Through Math,” an Honors project with original Markov Chain models. Van (Zoe) Pham, a math and economics double major, gave a talk on “Math asks: ‘Water You Doing, Georgetown?’” The research applies time series analysis to water and wastewater data from Georgetown as well as meteorological data. 

Seven students presented their capstone work from the Senior Seminar in Mathematical Modeling, which is directed by Therese Shelton, associate professor in mathematics. Nina Baccam analyzed a system of differential equations in “Look at Them Grow: A Mathematical Model of Cancer cell and T cell Populations.” Computational math major Ben Cardiff’s “Distractions Can Be a Real Pain” produced a data-based model related to distracted driving, included trends in crashes of various types, population, cellphone subscribers and text message increases. Sara Watson, a math and music double major, presented “A Finely Tuned Model,” using matrices to represent different musical tuning systems from Pythagorean to Just Intonations. Yasmin Leon applied data from the Centers for Disease Control and sensitivity analysis to a system of differential equations in “Modeling the Spread of HIV.” Computational math major Zachary Anglin’s “School Meals: How Much is Too Much?” involved a model of student meal plans at Southwestern and at other institutions, a topic that has also been actively discussed in his Paideia Seminar with Bob Bednar, associate professor of communication studies. Andy Clarage implemented a Monte Carlo simulation in Java for a Markov Chain model in “Love All: Mathematical Tennis.” David Ryan’s “Math Bites: Predator‐Prey Models of Various Species” applied intrinsic growth rates for wolf and white-tailed deer populations to a system of differential equations.

Students will be continuing their work the rest of the semester and will make final presentations on campus in December.

The students also performed well in the fun math problem session at the conference. Several students solved 8 or 9 of the 10 problems, and Clarage and Ryan solved all 10.

Funding to attend the conference was provided by the National Science Foundation through the MAA Regional Undergraduate Mathematics Conferences Program, SFA College of Sciences and Mathematics, SFA Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and the SU Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.