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Mathematics at the 2013 SACNAS National Conference

The 2013 National Conference of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) was held in San Antonio, TX, October 3-6. The organization celebrated its 40th anniversary. The conference theme was Strengthening the Nation through Diversity, Innovation & Leadership in STEM. The conference featured keynote speakers, sessions and symposia, awards, undergraduate poster presentations, graduate oral presentations, mentoring, field trips, and social events--and mathematics continues to be a significant component of the program.

Student Presentations in Mathematics

The Undergraduate Student Poster presentations, held in the exhibit hall, were a highlight of the conference. Below is a slideshow of presenters in the mathematical sciences.

The following undergraduate students received awards for mathematics posters:

  • Wendy Caldwell, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for Substance Abuse via Legally Prescribed Drugs: the Case of Vicodin in the USA
  • Ryan Contreras, Columbia University, for The Algebra of Block Permutations
  • Alyssa Loving, University of Hawaii at Hilo, for Calculation of the Mapping Class Group of a Genus 2 Surface
  • Ana Perez-Gea, Instituto Tecnologio Autonomo de Mexico, for Fast Generation and Tracking of GPS Dilution of Precision Regions Using Level Sets
  • Sofia Velazquez, Harvard University, for Testing for Tail Behavior wtih Refined Spacing

SACNAS has posted the abstracts of all the presenters. Again many of the mathematicians at the conference served as mentors and poster judges at the 2013 National SACNAS Conference. Many have volunteered to serve as a judge each year, and some are featured in the SACNAS Biography Project. The AMS gave each student poster presenter a bag with What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences, by Dana Mackenzie, and some small gifts in appreciation of their work.

There were Graduate Student Presentations in Mathematics as well. the prizenners in mathematics were Alicia Machuca, University of Texas at Arlington, for An Exact Solution Formula for the Kadomtsev-Petviashvili Equation, and Vianey Leos Barajas, Iowa State University, for Developing An Estimator For Fishery Withdrawals By The For-Hire Recreational Sector In The Gulf of Mexico.

Keynote Talk by Mathematician Robert Megginson

Robert Megginson, professor of mathematics at University of Michigan and a long-time advocate for the underrepresented in the mathematical sciences, gave a Keynote talk on the science of climate change, and how important it is for scientists--and those who are impacted by the changes--to speak up, document and advocate for more research and solutions.

Conversations with Scientists - Mathematical Sciences Section

This annual session drew at least 150 students and mentors. this annual session provides a great opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to share experiences with each other and with mentors, as well as 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.


The AMS 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 exhibit drew undergraduate and graduate students, mathematicians, and mentors. AMS Public Awareness Officers Mike Breen and Annette Emerson answered questions about the Society's programs and services including Find Graduate Programs in the Mathematical Sciences. This online resource--new since last year's SACNAS conference--allows users to search and sort grad programs in the U.S. and Canada by specialties, requirements, masters or PhD, size and location.

The AMS provided visitors with materials including:

The Society also displayed resources from the American Statistical Association on careers, awards and scholarships, membership, meetings and publications.

Who Wants to Be a Mathematician

SACNAS 2013 game winner Meza

Nearly 80 undergraduates took the qualifying test for the AMS Who Wants to Be a Mathematician game. Approximately 1000 attended the breakfast and saw six undergraduates compete for prizes:

  • Wendy Caldwell, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Edward Duran, University of Texas, Arlington
  • Krista Kernodle, University of Califonria, Irvine
  • Jeremy Meza, Carnegie Mellon
  • Sherilyn Tamagawa, Scripps
  • Francis Castro Velez, MIT

Jeremy Meza won US$2500 in cash from the AMS and a TI-Nspire CX calculator from Texas Instruments.

More Mathematics Sessions and Events

  • Modern Mathematics Workshops
  • Effective Time Mangement in Graduate School - Professional Development Session. Panelist: Ivelisse Rubio, Math Alliance Mentor
  • Implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Supporting or Stalling Advancement of Latin@ and Native American Students in STEM? Chair: Julia Aguirre, University of Washington Tacoma
  • The Mathematical Geosciences: Using Mathematical Models to Explore the Earth. Chairs: Chris Andronicos, Purdue, and Benjamin Gutierrez, US Geological Survey
  • Mathematics + Mathematics Education Research = A Partnership for a Better Education. Chair: Cynthia Anhalt, University of Arizona
  • Current Contributions by Women Mathematicians. Chairs: Pamela Harris, US Military Academy, and Shannon Talbott, College of Mount St Joseph
  • Mathematical Modeling in Context. Chair: Ricardo Cortez, Tulane
  • It's All Math! Using Mathematics to Solve World Problems. Chairs: Monica Jackson, American University, and Michael Young, Iowa State University
  • Learning to do Math Inside and Outside of School: Fostering Productive Mathematical Practices and Identity Development for Latin@ Youth and Native American Youth. Chair: Julia Aguirre, University of Washington Tacoma
  • Mathematics Applied to Ecology and Evolution. Chair: Ricardo Cortez, Tulane
  • Mathematics of Climate and Sustainability: Stimulating Interplay between Research and Education. Chairs: Mary Silber, Northwestern, Mary Lou Zeeman, Bowdoin College
  • Where is the Fruit? Successful Collaborations Between Mathematicians and Biologists. Chairs: Fabio Milner, Arizona State University, Karen Rios-Soto, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

NSF Mathematics Institutes supported many of the mathematics sessions and events.

Maria Cristina Villalobos, Professor, Department of Mathematics & Founding Director, Center of Excellence in STEM Education, University of Terxas-Pan American, received the 2013 Distinguished Undergraduate Institution Mentor Award. The AMS congratulates all the SACNAS student participants and appreciates all the mathematicians who organized the mathematics sessions, gave talks, served as mentors, and judged posters at the conference.

Math at the 2013 SACNAS National Conference


Next year's SACNAS conference is in Los Angeles, CA, October 15-19.

Read Highlights of the 2012 SACNAS National Conference, and watch for announcements about the 2014 SACNAS National Conference in Los Angeles, CA.

--- Annette Emerson, AMS Public Awareness Officer