Grand Valley Hosts the Annual Michigan Undergraduate Mathematics Conference
On October 9, 2010, Grand Valley State University hosted the 13th Annual Michigan Undergraduate Mathematics Conference (MUMC). The focus of the annual conference is to provide a venue for undergraduate students to share results of their mathematical research with others. The conference also aims to provide information on graduate school and summer research programs to the participants. Throughout the day participants had a chance to interact with representatives from the summer research program at GVSU and from the graduate programs at Central Michigan University, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, University of Kentucky and University of Michigan. This year’s conference drew more than 120 participants the majority of whom were students.
In addition to the thirteen student presentations that took place throughout the day, the highlights of the day were the keynote address “The Most Marvelous Theorem in Mathematics” presented by Dan Kalman during lunch, the panel in the afternoon on graduate school, and the closing ceremony.
Dr. Kalman, Professor of Mathematics at American University, Washington, DC, gave a lively presentation on Marden’s theorem, which gives a geometric description of the location of the roots of the derivative of a cubic polynomial in the complex plane. Dr. Kalman provided a proof of the theorem during his presentation and the audience participated actively in the construction of the proof. Common consensus among students in the audience was that the talk was accessible and very informative. As one student put it nicely: “I enjoyed Dr. Kalman's talk since it involved so many different areas of mathematics, yet they all worked together to explain his theorem.”
Participants also found the graduate school panel to be very helpful. The panel was organized by the Michigan Project NExT and moderated by David Murphy from Hillsdale College. Panel participants were Ryan Hutchinson (Hillsdale College), Amy Hlavacek (SVSU), Zhewei Dai (Alma College), and Melinda Koelling (WMU).The panel provided the participants with information on the application process, the different types of graduate schools and financial support during graduate studies. It helped remove part of the mystery about graduate school for the student participants and gave them ideas about what options are available. One student mentioned that “Before the conference, I knew I wanted to go to grad school, but had no idea in what or what it would be like. By attending this conference, I gained direction in where to look for graduate schools.”
During the closing ceremony awards for the presentations and door prizes were handed out. Each student presenter received a book of their choice as an award for their presentation. Prize drawings were held for donated books, copies of computer algebra systems Maple and Mathematica, and TI-Nspire calculators.
Overall, the conference was very successful. Students appreciated the chance to interact with other undergraduate students, to learn about different mathematical research areas presented by their colleagues and the free lunch. The following student comment on the conference summarizes the success of the conference: “I enjoyed the conference, and I think that I would consider giving a presentation at MUMC next year.”
Major funding for the conference was provided by GVSU and the NSF grant DMS-0846477 through the MAA Regional Undergraduate Mathematics Conference Program. Other sponsors of the conference included Maplesoft, Wolfram Research, Texas Instruments, Springer, Brookes-Cole, and Hawkes Learning System. The organizers of the conference were Drs. Paul Fishback, Firas Hindeleh and Akalu Tefera from the Mathematics Department.