MC group attends Joint Mathematics Meetings

MC group attends Joint Mathematics Meetings

Feb. 15, 2017

Representatives from Maryville College’s Division of Mathematics and Computer Science traveled to Atlanta, Ga., in January to attend the Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM).

Known as “the largest mathematics meeting in the world,” the JMM is an annual conference held by the two largest professional associations for mathematics, the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the American Mathematical Society (AMS).

The Maryville College group included math faculty Dr. Jesse Smith ’08, Dr. Dan Ross and Dr. Maria Siopsis; Professor Emeritus Dr. John Nichols ’65; students Evan Ezell ’18 and Thomas Simms ’19; and MC alumnus Chase Worley ’11.

MC group presents research

Four members of the Maryville College group presented research during the meeting.

Worley, who is completing a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (specializing in pure or abstract mathematics), presented on his graduate research on Hadamard Matrices.

Siopsis, associate professor of mathematics, presented on the Scots Science Scholars (S3) program, a four-year program that provides enrichment and support for select students who are interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) fields at MC.

Ezell, a junior computer science and mathematics double major, and Simms, a sophomore mathematics major, presented a poster "Synchronicity Among Gender-Identifying Pairs and Quantifying the Complexity of Rectilinear Motion."

The research, which was conducted as part of the Scots Science Scholars program, tried to determine if pairs of like-gender students synchronize their motion better than mixed pairs of students, Smith explained.

“Their method involved playing the ‘Mirror Game,’ using physics equipment to determine how well one player was following another player,” said Smith, the students’ advisor. “They also attempted to create a mathematical model that could quantify the complexity of the players' motion.”

There were 518 posters at the Undergraduate Poster Presentation, and Smith said Ezell and Simms went through a detailed process in order to present at JMM.

“Evan and Thomas submitted their abstract near the beginning of the fall 2015 semester,” he said. “They were accepted for presentation later in that same semester. Evan and Thomas also applied for an MAA travel grant to help with the costs of traveling to the JMM. Evan received this grant, and the rest of the funds for travel were supported by the Scots Science Scholars program.”

A learning experience

Smith said the JMM provided Ezell and Simms with the opportunity to attend talks given by leading mathematicians from around the world and gain experience in sharing their own work.

“Presenting at conferences is very beneficial for our students in that it helps them gain experience in sharing their work with others and articulating that material in a clear and useful way,” Smith said. “This particular poster session was judged by mathematicians. Each student received time with a judge and received feedback on their presentation following the meeting.

“It also gives them the great opportunity to attend a subset of hundreds of great talks given by leaders in various branches of mathematics from around the world,” the professor added. “This allows the students to be exposed to ideas and perspectives in mathematics that they might not learn about otherwise. It also can spark the inspiration of further research. That's the underlying purpose of any conference (both for professionals and students) – to share ideas and perspectives in hopes of sparking new research or new perspectives.”

By Allison Franklin ’18, Communications Assistant

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.