Two GVSU Students Attend University of Nebraska Conference
Each February, the mathematics department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosts a conference for undergraduate women to “give outstanding undergraduate women the opportunity to discuss their own research and to meet other women who share their interest in the mathematical sciences.” In February 2006, two GVSU students, Ngan Nguyen and Elizabeth Toman, flew to Nebraska to join 188 women at the event, representing 127 different colleges and universities.
On Saturday, students had the opportunity to attend eleven different presentations of undergraduate research. For example, there was a talk by two students who had attended an REU and done research on the Cantor set, a famous set in analysis that has many surprising properties, including being both uncountable and having measure zero. In addition, there was a panel of mathematicians discussing their jobs, which ranged from teaching and doing research at the university level, to solving problems for Boeing and the National Security Agency.
Ngan and Elizabeth truly enjoyed the conference, reporting that the best part of attending for them was experiencing mathematical community, especially in a setting focused on women who love mathematics and want to share their work with one another. Ngan shared that one thing that she learned at the conference is that mathematics is difficult, no matter how smart you are, and that the thing that matters most is your devotion to it. Many speakers and participants shared their stories about wanting to give up, but being thankful that they persevered in their studies. Both students said that the experience was inspiring, to meet so many different women who have been successful in a wide variety of areas and applications of mathematics.
Both Ngan and Elizabeth aspire to attend graduate school in mathematics and earn advanced degrees. They share that attending the conference at Nebraska convinced them even further of their respective desire to pursue further study, and are each very thankful that the department encouraged their attendance and participation.