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Mathematics at the 2007 National SACNAS Conference


The 2007 National Conference of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) was held in Kansas City, MO, October 11-14. The conference theme, "Stretching the Imagination to Support Leadership and Sustainability" featured keynote speakers, sessions and symposia, awards, undergraduate poster presentations, graduate oral presentations, mentoring, and social events--and mathematics was again a significant component of the program. The American Mathematical Society (AMS) was among the conference session sponsors and was among the over 200 exhibitors--institutes, colleges, universities, associations, hospitals, government agencies--that provided information abouteducational programs and career opportunities in the sciences. Generoussupport from the National Security Agency (NSA) allowed many math students to attend the conference.


Richard Tapia



Richard A. Tapia (Rice University) presented Promoting Students' Appreciation for Math Through Applications to Very Cool Activities. He is known for his research in computational and mathematical sciences and has received many awards and recognitions. His talk at this year's SACNAS conference connected mathematics to his hobby of drag-racing, and he shared the podium with two of his past students who had collaborated on a project to use math to determine the fairest way for drivers to be placed in lanes over several races. The Fall 2007 issue of SACNAS News (a pdf) features Tapia and other scientists in "Sustaining a Career in the Sciences," by Jenny Kurzweil.

Richard Tapia received the AMS Award for Distinguished Public Service in 2004. (Photograph at left, taken at the 2004 Joint Mathematics Meetings held in Phoenix, AZ.)

Rochelle Gutiérrez (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) was also a keynote speaker. Her research focuses on equity in mathematics education; race, class and language issues in teaching and learning; effective teacher communities; and social justice. She has served as a member of the RAND National Mathematics Study Panel, and was recently a Fulbright Scholar researching collective teacher practices among secondary mathematics teachers in Zacatecas, Mexico.

Kenneth Millet and students

The UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE STUDENT POSTER PRESENTATIONS IN MATHEMATICS were a highlight of the conference. See the list of posters, presenters and photos. The poster award winner in Mathematics was Brenda Jimenez-Gonzalez from Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico, for "The Cursed Duet: Dynamics of HIV/TB Co-Infection in South Africa."

There were five GRADUATE STUDENT ORAL RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS IN MATHEMATICS. The graduate student Oral Presentation award winner was Genevieve Toutain from Arizona State University, for "A Mathematical Model of the Drosophila Heart." The other oral presentations in mathematics were: "Conduction Velocity and Interspike Interval in Models of Action Potentials in Myelinated Nerve Fibers," Eric Benavidez (University of Kansas, Lawrence); "Explicit Stochastic Models for the Population Dynamics of Tribolium," Alberto Izarraraz (California State University, Los Angeles, CA); "Visualizing Invariant Manifolds for the Planar Restricted Three Body Problem," Claudia Santiago (University of Chicago, Chicago, IL); and "Dynamics of a Gene Expression Model with Time Delay," Anael Verdugo (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY)

Many of the mathematicians at the conference served as mentors and poster judges at the 2007 National SACNAS Conference, and several are part of the SACNAS Biography Project.

The AMS EXHIBIT drew undergraduate and graduate students, mathematicians, and teachers. AMS Associate Executive Director Jim Maxwell and Public Awareness Officer Annette Emerson answered questions about the Society's programs and services, graduate school programs and careers in mathematics, and additional resources for students.

The AMS exhibit The AMS exhibit

The AMS also provided visitors with materials including: "What Can I Do with a Math Degree?" poster in English and Spanish; Mathematical Moments in English and Spanish; information on Headlines & Deadlines for Students; brochures of resources for high school math students and teachers, for undergraduate math students, and for graduate students; and Assistantships & Graduate Fellowships in the Mathematical Sciences. Among the publications on display were What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences, by Dana Mackenzie and Barry Cipra, and Change is Possible: Stories of Women and Minorities in Mathematics, by Patricia Clark Kenschaft.

The AMS exhibit The AMS exhibit
The AMS exhibit The AMS exhibit

MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES-RELATED SESSIONS were offered throughout the conference:

o MSRI Workshop on Modern Mathematics, two sessions, sponsored by the National Security Agency and the Mathematical Science Research Institute. Chairs: Ricardo Cortez (Tulane University), Kathleen O'Hara (MSRI), Ivelisse M. Rubio (University of Puerto Rico, Humacao); Speakers: Brendan Hassett (Rice University), Paul Loya ( Binghamton University), Jesus de Loera (University of California, Davis), J. Maurice Rojas (Texas A&M University), Vitaly Bergelson (Ohio State University)

o Mathematics Institute: Classifying Plane Curves, sponsored by the National Security Agency. Chairs: Ricardo Cortez and Ivelisse M. Rubio; Speaker: Brendan Hassett (Rice University)

o StatFest, sponsored by the American Statistical Association. Chairs: Javier Rojo (Rice University), Keith Crank (American Statistical Association), Rob Santos (Statistical Methods Group, Urban Institute)

o Latina Women in Mathematics, Education, and Engineering, a forum. Chair: Cleopatra Martinez (Maricopa Community College)

o Mathematics of the New Generation, sponsored by the National Security Agency. Chairs: Erika Camacho (Loyola Marymount University) and Stephen Wirkus (California State Polytechnic University); Speakers: Omayra Ortgega (Arizona State University), Juan Ortiz-Navarro (University of Rochester), Alex Villacorta (Clear Capital) and Talithia Willliams (Rice University)

o Purely Applied Mathematics, sponsored by the AMS and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Chairs: Ricardo Cortez and Ivelisse M. Rubio; Speakers: Victor Moll (Tulane University), Rose Orellana (Dartmouth College), and Brandilyn Stigler (Mathematical Biosciences Institute)

o Low Dimensional Topology and Quantum Geometry, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Chairs: Dagan Karp (University of California, Berkeley) and Robin T. Wilson (California State Polytechnic University); Speakers: Kevin Costello (Northwestern University), Joel Kamnitzer (American Institute of Mathematics) and Mariel Vazquez (San Francisco State University)

o Biostatistical Applications in the Medical Sciences, sponsored by the American Statistical Association. Chair: Javier Rojo; Speakers: Rudy Guerra (Rice University), Yolanada Muñoz Maldonado and Claudia Pedroza (University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston)

o Advancing Knowledge and Debunking Myths: Mathematics Education Research and Latinos/as, sponsored in part by the Center for Mathematics Education of Latinos/as. Chair: Julie Aguirre (Univeristy of California, Santa Cruz)

The Math Institute Reception was sponsored by MSRI, the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute, the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, the Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute, the Centre de Recherches Mathématiques, the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, and the American Institute of Mathematics.

Read Highlights of the 2006 SACNAS National Conference.

--- Annette Emerson, AMS Public Awareness Officer