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Mathematics at the 2011 SACNAS National Conference

Ricardo Cortez at SACNAS 2011

The 2011 National Conference of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) was held in San Jose, CA, October 27-30. The theme was Empowering Innovation and Synergy Through Diversity. The conference featured keynote speakers, sessions and symposia, awards, undergraduate poster presentations, graduate oral presentations, mentoring, and social events--and mathematics is an ever-growing component of the program. The conference drew a record number of attendees (nearly 4,000).

The Opening Ceremony featured a video message from astronauts at the International Space Station to SACNAS attendees!


The student poster presentations, held in the exhibit hall, were a highlight of the conference, and there was a record-breaking number of poster presenters--nearly 80--in the mathematical sciences.

The following students received awards for mathematics posters:

  • David Jones (University of California, Merced)
  • Perla Salazar (Kansas State University)
  • Gabriel Porrata (University of Puerto Rico)
  • Dayanara Lebron (Universidad Metropolitana)
  • Mauricio Flores (University of Texas at Brownsville)
  • Shanise Walker (University of Georgia)
  • My Huynh (Arizona State University)
  • George Shakan (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
  • Maxsimino Montes (Sam Houston State University)
  • Bethany Vohlers (SAS Institute, Inc.)

Here's a video of the student math poster presenters:

Many of the mathematicians at the conference served as mentors and poster judges at the 2011 National SACNAS Conference, and several are part of the SACNAS Biography Project.

The AMS gave each student poster presenter a bag with Probability Tales, by Charles M. Grinstead (Swarthmore College), William P. Peterson (Middlebury College) and J. Laurie Snell (Dartmouth College), and some small gifts in appreciation of their work.

The CONVERSATIONS WITH SCIENTISTS - MATHEMATICS SECTION on Thursday evening provided a great opportunity for students to share experiences with each other and with mentors.

Undergraduates and graduates from colleges and universities around the country gathered to discuss mathematics, courses, graduate programs and careers in the mathematical sciences. There was a mentor at each table to answer questions and guide the discussions.

Ricardo Cortez at SACNAS 2011

Ricardo Cortez (Tulane University) spread the word about the E-Mentoring Network in the Mathematical Sciences, a new service that addresses relevant questions that students, postdoctoral researchers and junior faculty may have regarding their own advancement in mathematics. Students, especially those who may not have sufficient mentoring at their current institution, and those in underrepresented groups, are urged to follow the postings, suggest topics and give feedback.

There were GRADUATE STUDENT ORAL PRESENTATIONS IN MATHEMATICS as well. Awards were given to Juan Ramirez Jr. (University of Colorado) for Applied Mathematics, and to Mela Hardin (University of California, Los Angeles) for Mathematics (General).



The UNDERGRADUATE MINICOURSES on Wednesday drew about 100 students, most of whom took the qualifying test for the AMS Who Wants to Be a Mathematician game. Approximately 3,000 attended the breakfast and saw six undergraduates compete for prizes:

  • Jennifer Aguayo (University of California, Santa Barbara)
  • Xavier Garcia (University of Minnesota Twin Cities)
  • Chetak Hossain (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Kunal Mangal (University of Ariizona)
  • Adrian Ochoa (University of Ariizona)
  • George Shakan (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)


The AMS exhibit drew undergraduate and graduate students, mathematicians, and mentors.

Students in the AMS booth at SACNAS 2011 Student with AMs Pi t-shirt in AMS booth at SACNAS 2011

AMS Public Awareness Officers Mike Breen and Annette Emerson answered questions about the Society's programs and services, graduate school programs and careers in mathematics. The AMS was among the conference session sponsors and was among the institutes, colleges, universities, associations, hospitals, companies and government agencies that provided information about educational programs and career opportunities in the sciences.

The AMS provided visitors with materials including:


  • Modern Mathematics Workshop
  • Modern Mathematics Keynote address, "DNA Unkotting and Unlinking, "by Mariel Vazquez
  • Mathematics Reception, supported by the NSF Mathematics Institute
  • Mathematical Modeling as a Collaborative Discipline
  • Obesity in the Hispanic Community: A Statistical Perspective
  • Teacher Knowledge, Innovation, and Effective Teaching of Latino and American Indian Students in Mathematics
  • Discrete Systems Biology
  • Hot Topics in Ecology and Evolution: Climate Change, Conservation Biology, and How to Manager the Oceans of Data that Explain Them
  • How Statistics Can 9and Really Does) Improve Your Life
  • Mathematical Models: Current research fo Present-Day Role Models of the Underrepresented
  • Modern Statistical Approcahes in the Context of High Dimensional and Spatio-te,poral Data
  • Motion Planning and Computational Game Theory: From BOard Games to Surgical Procedures
  • Statistical and Mathematical Modeling of Rainfall, Stars and Social Networks

NSF Mathematics Institute supported many of the mathematics sessions and events. The AMS supported the Mathematical Modeling as a Collaborative Discipline session.

The AMS appreciates all the mathematicians who organized the mathematics sessions, gave talks, served as mentors, and judged posters at the 2011 National SACNAS Conference.

Read Highlights of the 2010 SACNAS National Conference.

--- Annette Emerson, AMS Public Awareness Officer