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February 26, 2004
Section: Local
Edition: Final Chaser
Page: B9

William Hermann, The Arizona Republic

As the resident wits in Arizona State University's math department say, "ASU Mathematics is running AMUC."
Well, they're paid to be mathematicians and not comedians. But it would seem someone is earning his or her money, because the fact is that math majors at ASU now number 450, up from 350 just two years ago.

And the department is hosting the first-ever Arizona Mathematics Undergraduate Conference (AMUC) Friday through Sunday, with 120 students coming from throughout the West. The public is welcome.

Department head Andrew Bremner largely credits Glenn Hurlbert, undergraduate studies associate chairman, for making ASU a place where math majors want to be.

Hurlbert recruits from area high schools and lower-level ASU classes as well as providing math-related social activities for math majors, Bremner said.

"To like math is a little strange to many people, even at universities, and math majors tend to feel isolated," Bremner said. "Glenn recognizes that and has brought like-minded people together as undergraduates, and for that matter, at this conference. He has been a driving force behind our enrollment and putting on the conference."

Hurlbert said he has tried to build a relationship with area high school math departments.

"I communicate with them regularly, but I also get around to our own classes and see who we can turn into math majors," he said. "We show them that there are good careers in mathematics, and the salaries can be excellent."

He is using ASU undergraduates to help him put on the conference -- students like Troy Tingey, 23, and Jonathan Winkler, 22, both of Tempe.

Both have spent scores of hours communicating with math departments throughout the West, scheduling presentations and planning social events. Winkler will also be making a presentation at the conference, discussing mathematical models of growth in cancer cells.

Hurlbert said presenters will represent industry and academia.

"We'll have ... people from Lockheed Martin, General Motors and the National Security Agency, some of the largest employers of mathematicians on the planet," he said. "Students will give oral presentations on their mathematics research, and we hope they'll get to know each other and make contacts for graduate school and industry."

Information on the conference: