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Undergraduate Poster Sessions Generate Unprecedented Interest

A Report by Session Organizer Mario Martelli, Claremont McKenna College

popular poster session

judges, presenters and attendees

Photographs courtesy of Marc Chamberland, Grinnell College.

The 2003 Undergraduate Student Poster Session was a resounding success. I received 108 applications. The room of the Baltimore Convention Center reserved for the event could accommodate only 80, but thanks to an unpredictable sequence of events, Jim Tattersall, Associate Secretary of the MAA, was able to offer the same room for an additional morning session. Thanks to my recommendation quite a few people, including Ron Graham, President-Elect of the MAA, came to see the morning posters.

The afternoon session was a sight to be seen. The 42’ x 80’ room was packed with 192 undergraduates presenting their posters, 115 judges evaluating them, and many visitors and friends. Those who attended the session for the first time could not believe their eyes. Also, those who attended previous sessions told me repeatedly that the posters are getting better every year. Among the judges offering their help was a large group of Project NExT fellows and consultants. I cannot be thankful enough to them for providing crucial support. Part of the merit goes to Joe Gallian who sent an e-mail to the entire Project NExT family asking the members to get in touch with me to offer help. I used 43 judges from this group. I also asked an additional 6 of them to be my "stand by judges", necessary to solve all last minute emergencies—of which there were a few. I want to recognize the contribution of 12 faculty members from the California State University system. I will not mention their names here, but I was moved by their presence.

some of the presenters

Sixteen posters were recognized ex equo. The prize: $100 each. The money was offered by the MAA, AMS, AWM, CUR and by some private donors who want to remain anonymous. Colin Adams brought most of the money. I brought a couple of prizes from California. The posters recognized are listed below alphabetically by presenter name:

Semiregular relative difference sets, authored by Christine Berkesh (Butler University), Jeff Ginn and Erin Militzer (Central Michigan University), and Erin Haller (University of Missouri, Rolla). [Poster #5] The research was done at Central Michigan University (NSF-REU program). The supervisor was Ken Smith.

Analysis of a food chain with an added competitor, authored by Brian Bockelman (State University of West Georgia), Elisabeth Green (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Leslie Lippitt (Iowa State University), Jason Sherman (Kent State University). [Poster #6] The research was done at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (NSF-REU). The supervisors were Bo Deng and Wendy Hines.

Canards in the forced Van der Pol equation, authored by Katherine Bold (University of Texas at Austin). [Poster #7] The research was done at Cornell University (NSF-REU). The supervisor was John Guckeneimer.

Biquaternionic projective space, authored by Scot Childress(California State University Fullerton). [Poster #16] The research was done at California State University Fullerton (Sally-Casanova Predoctoral Fellowship). The supervisor was Alfonso Agnew.

Asymptotic analysis of finite deformation in a nonlinear transversely isotropic incompressible hyperelastic half-space subjected to a tensile point load, authored by Ethan Coon (University of Rochester). [Poster #19] The research was done at James Madison University (NSF-REU). The supervisors were Debra and Paul Warne.

A computational model for the motion of flagella, authored by Oscar Del Valle (University of California San Diego), Heather Flores (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), and Stefan Mendez-Diaz (University of Chicago). [Poster #22] The research was done at the University of Puerto Rico Humacao (NSF-REU and NSA). The supervisor was Victor Moll.

The rigidity of plane grids and some new extensions, authored by Sandra Gregov and Joe Aiken (York University). [Poster #34] The research was done at York University NSERC Canada and of advisor). The supervisors was Walter Whiteley.

How hard is the knight's tour?, authored by Ananda Leininger (MIT), and Kevin McGown (Oregon State University, Corvallis). [Poster #48] The research was done at Oregon State University, Corvallis (NSF-REU). The supervisor was Paul Cull.

Mixed vs. independent predation terms in one predator, two prey system, authored by Leslie Lippitt (Iowa State University), Elisabeth Green (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), and Jason Sherman (Kent State University). [Poster #50] The work was done at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (NSF-REU). The supervisors were Bo Deng and Wendy Hines.

A mathematical model for an electro-pneumatic pulsed jet actuator, authored by Borislav Mezericher (Queens College) and Matthew Willyard (University of Rochester). [Poster #56] The research was done at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (support from the Center for Industrial Mathematics and Statistics). The supervisor was Bogdan Vernescu.

Polynomials and power series in the Sierpinski gasket, authored by Jonathan Needleman (Oberlin College). [Poster #59] The work was done at Cornell University (NSF-REU). The supervisor was Bob Strichartz.

K*-ultrahomogeneous graphs, authored by Stephanie Proctor (California State University Fullerton), and Chris Jankowski (Notre Dame). [Poster #65] The work was done at the University of Notre Dame (NSF-REU). The supervisor was Dan Isaksen.

The effects of mass transportation during the deliberate release of smallpox, authored by Karen Rios-Soto (Cornell University), Emilia Huerta-Sanchez (Cornell University), and Guarionex Jordan-Salivia (University of Iowa). [Poster #68] The work was done at Cornell University (supported by the Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute). The supervisor was Carlos Castillo-Chavez.

Cyclotomic factorization, authored by Jeremy Rouse (Harvey Mudd College). [Poster #69] The research was done at Harvey Mudd College. The supervisor was Arthur Benjamin.

Optimal control and coupled solid-state lasers, authored by John Workman (University of Tennessee, Knoxville). [Poster #78] The research was done at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (NSF-REU). The supervisor was Suzanne Lenhart.

Constructing the moduli spaces of Riemann surfaces with a G(k,l,m,n) action, authored by Kathryn Zurh (Mount Holyoke College). [Poster #82] The research was done at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (NSF-REU). The supervisor was Allen Broughton.

All students attending the poster session and everybody reading this report should regard every presenter as a winner. Being selected by a professional mathematician, and having a poster accepted among all the others submitted, is recognition of a great accomplishment. A great number of students were supported by NSF-REU programs. Among the posters received were: 8 from the program organized by Herbert Medina and Ivelisse Rubio at the University of Puerto Rico Humacao; 11 from Cornell--some from the NSF-REU program and a larger number from the Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute directed by Carlos Castillo-Chavez; four from the NSA NSF-REU program at Miami University; four from the NSF-REU program at California State University San Bernardino; three from the NSF-REU program at Central Michigan University; and three from the NSF-REU program and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Next year the press will be invited to see how energetic, enthusiastic and well-informed our undergraduates are.

Congratulations to all students! Heartfelt thanks to the Advisors, to the Judges, to Colin Adams for finding the prize money, and to Aparna Higgins for standing on an unstable platform to announce the winners with a lot of humor and many appropriate comments. I would be delighted to see all of you at the 2004 Winter Meeting in Phoenix.

--- Mario Martelli, Claremont McKenna College

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