JMM 2019 Baltimore

Descriptions of MAA Invited Paper Sessions

Trends in Mathematical and Computational Biology, organized by Timothy Comar, Benedictine University, Alicia Prieto Langarcia, Youngstown State University, and Raina Robeva, Sweet Briar College; Wednesday, 8:00–10:50 am. Mathematical and computational biology encompasses a diverse range of biological phenomena and quantitative methods for exploring those phenomena. The pace of research at this junction continues to accelerate and substantial advancements in problems from gene regulation, genomics, phylogenetics, RNA folding, evolution, infectious disease dynamics, neuroscience, growth and control of populations, ecological networks, drug resistance modeling, and medical breakthroughs related to cancer therapies have increasingly ensued from utilizing mathematical and computational approaches. Our session on current trends will sample from this diversity of important questions from biology and medicine and their mathematical treatments, with a goal of maximizing the range of topics and research methods presented at the session. Mathematical approaches will include deterministic and stochastic continuous dynamical models, as well as finite dynamical systems and combinatorial and algebraic methods.

Building Successful Communities in Mathematics, organized by Deanna Haunsperger, Carlton College; Wednesday, 8:00–11:00 am. Mathematicians have always formed communities, but over the past couple decades, some groups have become more deliberate in the formation of communities to provide support and a mathematical home for their people. Whether those communities are structured around geographic area, mathematical field, gender, stage of career, or some other attribute, they can provide welcoming and supportive environments for their members and have become an important aspect of some folks’ professional identities. Some of these programs have demonstrably aided in the persistence of members of underrepresented groups; examples of such programs will be featured in the session.

Using Research about Teaching and Learning to Inform the Preparation of Graduate Students to Teach, organized by Jack Bookman, Carlton College and Teri J. Murphy, University of Cincinnati; Wednesday, 2:15–3:15 pm. Many groups within the mathematics community have called for increased attention to the preparation we provide to graduate students for their teaching responsibilities. These efforts are especially important because of the roles graduate students play in introductory mathematics instruction and the impact of experiences in introductory courses on student outcomes, enrollment, and retention rates in STEM majors. To support these efforts, the College Mathematics Instructor Development Source (CoMInDS) project, which is based at MAA and funded by NSF (DUE Award #0910240), assists faculty in the design and implementation of professional development for mathematics graduate students. One component of this assistance has been a summer workshop at which mathematics faculty (who will be providing the professional development to mathematics graduate students) have opportunities to gain familiarity with research on the teaching and learning of mathematics, learn about available instructional materials and evaluation, and design their department’s program.

As part of our efforts to provide this assistance to a wider audience in the mathematics community, this session will highlight key findings from research on the teaching and learning of mathematics and showcase activities for mathematics graduate student professional development. Presentations in the session will be tied to themes in the MAA’s Instructional Practices (IP) Guide. Specifically, we will focus on information relevant to supporting mathematics graduate students to utilize approaches highlighted in the Classroom Practices section of the IP Guide: Fostering Student Engagement and Selecting Appropriate Mathematical Tasks.

Research in Improving Undergraduate Mathematical Sciences Education: Examples Supported by the National Science Foundation's IUSE: EHR Program, organized by Ron Buckmire, Karen Keene, Sandra Richardson, Talitha Washington, and Lee Zia, National Science Foundation (NSF); Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR); Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE); Thursday, 8:00–11:00 am. In this Invited Paper Session, research and findings will be presented from projects funded by the National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education's Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Program. The purpose of this session is to provide a venue for the mathematical sciences community to share recent research from innovations related to undergraduate mathematical sciences.

The session will highlight research from ongoing IUSE-funded projects, with a focus on the study of the teaching and learning of undergraduate mathematical sciences. Session topics will include research findings from one or more of the following themes related to undergraduate mathematical sciences education: (1) Systemic structures to support effective teaching and broadening participation; (2) Curricular and pedagogical innovations to strengthen student experiences in mathematical sciences learning; and (3) Effective use of digital tools and other sources as teaching and learning resources. Because some projects are in early stages of project development and analysis, research findings may be preliminary.

Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, organized by Pamela Harris, Williams College, Alicia Prieto Langarica, Youngstown State University, and Chad Topaz, Williams College; Thursday, 8:00–12:00 pm. Due to the historical lack of visibility of minority mathematicians, students may continue to believe that they cannot pursue scientific careers nor belong in the mathematical community. This is an issue we must address in order to diversify the sciences. The goals of this session are twofold: to discuss some current statistics concerning under-representation in the mathematical community and to present programs, opportunities, and pedagogical techniques that aim to address this under-representation.

Modular forms: aesthetics and applications, organized by Amanda Folsom, Amherst College; Thursday, 1:00–4:00 pm. Modular forms are seemingly ubiquitous. Their inherent symmetries have driven research directions for over a century, and have led to major theoretical advances in mathematics and number theory, as well as applications to many diverse areas including mathematical physics, combinatorics, representation theory, and more. This session will feature speakers whose research has emphasized aesthetics and applications of modular forms and related functions. In particular, the work of many speakers relates to the more recent theory of and applications of harmonic Maass forms (2002-present), which are rooted in both original theory due to Maass from the 1950s as well as the enigmatic work of Ramanujan from 1920 on his mock theta functions.

The Past 50 Years of African Americans in the Mathematical Sciences, organized by Edray Goins, Pomona College; Friday, 8:00–11:00 am. 2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the National Association of Mathematicians. NAM seeks is to promote excellence in the mathematical sciences for underrepresented minorities in general and African-Americans in particular. In the 50 years since the founding of NAM, we have seen many milestones. In 1995, the annual Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences (CAARMS) began at MSRI. In 1997, Scott Williams started the website “Mathematicians of the African Diaspora”, and Kate Okikiolu bacame the first African American to win a Sloan Research Fellowship. In 2000, three African American Women graduated from the University of Maryland — the first year any African American women had done so. In 2005, the bi-annual Infinite Possibilities Conference (IPC) began at Spelman College. In this session, we celebrate those African Americans who have advanced knowledge in the mathematical sciences through their research and commitment to community.

Mathematical Thinking for Modern Data Science Problems, organized by Rick Cleary, Babson College, and Diana Thomas, U.S. Military Academy; Friday, 1:00–3:30 pm. With the increasing wealth of data obtained by sensors, internet, and smart phones, data analysis is filled with familiar terms like artificial intelligence and big data. Many schools have diversified their mathematics offerings to include modern topics like machine learning and big data analytics. But even with these tools available, real applications are challenging and typically require a mix of modern and traditional approaches. This is certainly the case when searching for rare events in large data sets. For example, how do we use big data to predict rare events that have huge impact, like a severe injury or a specific pregnancy complication? How do we identify individuals inside a noisy data environment who may want to stay hidden, like a terrorist? How does a pro sports franchise find the future all-star currently not on the radar of scouts and coaches?

Speakers will detail the work they have done with subject area experts in fields like health, education, public policy, business, and sports science, our speakers present some unusual data science problems, describe why they are challenging, and propose solutions. We will show how fundamental mathematical concepts and problem solving skills relate to these important real world problems.

Beauty and Art from Research Mathematics, organized by Diana Davis, Swarthmore College; Saturday, 8:00–11:00 am. Research mathematics can produce beautiful pictures, beautiful objects, and even beautiful movies or other art forms. In this session, we will showcase some of the beautiful art that has been created as a by-product of research mathematics. Each speaker will introduce their research, and then display the resulting art, explaining its mathematical significance and also allowing attendees to appreciate its beauty.

Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education: Highlights from the Annual SIGMAA on RUME Conference, organized by Megan Wawro, Virginia Tech and Aaron Weinberg, Ithaca College; Saturday, 8:30–10:50 am. The purpose of the SIGMAA on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education (RUME) is to foster research on the teaching and learning of undergraduate mathematics and to provide a support network for those who participate in this area of research. Current research foci include insights regarding: students’ understanding of concepts inundergraduate mathematics courses such as calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, real analysis, or abstract algebra; student and instructor engagement inmathematical practices that transcend particular content, such as defining and proving; and the impact of various instructional methods on equity and student learning. The 2019 MAA Invited Paper Session on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education will highlight exemplary current research in the field. In particular, it will showcase 4-6 research papers that were presented at the 21st Annual SIGMAA on RUME Conference, which took place in San Diego, CA in February 2018.

Mathematics and Policy, organized by Eric Marland and Rick Klima, Appalachian State University; Saturday, 1:00–4:40 pm. Mathematics and policy meet at an awkward intersection, a conflict of simplicity and rigor, imposing practicality on impossibility, and making transparent decisions in an uncertain world. But the purpose of bringing policy and mathematics together is to find a balance and increase communication and discourse along a complex interface. Many times we find success simply from arranging to have the right people in the room together. Rather than focus on one aspect of this interface, we propose a broader look into the politics of mathematics and the mathematics of policy.

Bringing together several groups who are interested in a common topic, but who have very different ideas on what the topic really is, can spark innovation and conversations that would not otherwise take place. From working directly with policy makers to understanding policies; from developing policy to critiquing policy. How can the mathematics of gerrymandering influence practicing policy makers? How can insights in one arena help craft policy in another? How can the interaction between scientists and policy makers change the way we present our results?