Millikin University mathematics students Hailee Peck, a sophomore from Mahomet, Ill., and Lane Bloome, a senior from Raymond, Ill., were honored with an Outstanding Presentation Award from the Undergraduate Student Poster Session at the 2013 Joint Mathematics Meetings. The meetings were held Jan. 9-12 in San Diego, Calif. The Undergraduate Student Poster Session featured over 300 poster presentations by students from around the country, and the top 10 to 15 percent of posters received the Outstanding Presentation distinction.
"The judges were very impressed with the way our students were poised and more conversational during their presentation," remarked Dr. Joe Stickles, professor of mathematics. "The work they presented came from both Hailee's SURF-funded work from this summer as well as the work they did jointly this semester as undergraduate research fellows."
Peck and Bloome's poster presentation focused on the topic of using ideal-divisor graphs to classify ideals of finite commutative rings with identity. Part of the research process was through Millikin University's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. The program teams a student with a faculty member to perform an in-depth research project over the summer months.
"It is a great honor to have our poster recognized as an outstanding presentation," remarked Bloome. "Over 300 of the best and brightest young mathematicians participated, and it's always a pleasure to be in the same room with so many fellow budding mathematicians. It's also wonderful to get feedback from professional mathematicians on your research. Professional opinions give you a lot of perspective on exactly where you are on your work."
The Joint Mathematics Meetings is this largest annual mathematics meeting in the world, combining the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the American Mathematical Society (AMS). Along with highlighted speakers and workshops, the meetings also featured student programs and activities. The Undergraduate Student Poster Session showcased the work of more than 500 undergraduate students, and over 200 professional mathematicians participated on the judging panel.
"I thought that the Joint Mathematics Meetings gave me valuable insight into the current issues in mathematics," remarked Peck. "It was a very rewarding experience - Lane and I had put in long hours to complete the research, so being able to present it and have people interested in what we were doing made our hard work worthwhile."
"In terms of research and going to conferences, our department does a very good job of giving our students these type of experiences and getting them prepared for going on to graduate school or into the workforce," remarked Stickles. "Our version of performance-learning in mathematics is having our students go out and present. All three tracks of our mathematics majors do this type of work. To not only do the research but to have the experience to present it, whether it’s a presentation at a conference or in paper form, all of those experiences will help at that next level. We’ve been very lucky to have students involved early with projects and we've had positive feedback from our students who have gone on to graduate programs."