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First conference draws university math scholars

Conference to rotate between Arizona universitie

 by Annemarie Moody
 published on Monday, March 1, 2004


First conference draws university math scholars
Conference to rotate between Arizona universities
By annemarie moody
the State Press

Calculation connoisseurs in the Southwest have a new haven: the Arizona Mathematics Undergraduate Conference.

More than 100 students and faculty from Arizona to Texas assembled this past weekend at ASU for the conference, the first in the region.

Students from ASU, NAU, UA, New Mexico State University, the University of Texas-El Paso and about 10 other colleges and high schools talked math and attended lectures on the subject.

Glenn Hurlbert, an associate professor in math and statistics, and the ASU math club's faculty adviser, said the club worked since May 2003 to organize the conference.

The three Arizona universities will rotate as host schools for each year's conference, Hurlbert said.

An estimated $30,000 was donated by various sources, including the Math Association of America, ASU's department of mathematics, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UA and NAU, Hurlbert said.

Hurlbert said that no attending student or faculty member had to pay any out-of-pocket costs.

"It's easy to never know how fun math is and how incredibly useful and critical it's to every science," Hurlbert said. "The explosion in technology is largely due to math that has been around for decades."

The keynote speaker at the conference was David Pengelley, a mathematics professor at New Mexico State University.

"I think it's spectacular that so many students want to learn about each other's work," he said.

Pengelley's lecture focused on 19th-century math pioneer Sophie Germain.

Germain was the first woman in history to produce original mathematics research, Pengelley said.

ASU math senior Shawn Elledge said the conference was informative and a good networking opportunity.

"I've never been to a conference like this, but I'll probably go to the one next year," he said.

ASU math club co-president, math and molecular science senior Jon Winkler, called the conference the pinnacle of the club's efforts this year.

The club, which has been dormant for several years, has about 25 to 30 members and wants to start holding assemblies at local high schools "to get the kids excited about math, and talk about things they will have access to if they pursue math as a major or career," Winkler said.

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