Descriptions of MAA Invited Paper Sessions

Creating Spaces for Mathematics, organized by Della Dumbaugh, University of Richmond; Wednesday, 8:00–11:00 am. Mathematics offered Richard Courant a safe haven for his family and an academic structure to resume some semblance of a normal life during a difficult time in history. The discipline of mathematics in the broader academic climate of Bryn Mawr College in the early twentieth-century provided Charlotte Scott with the space to lay the foundation for the education of women in mathematics in this country. Mathematics combined with an unexpected footnote to offer Gertrude Cox a chance to discover her extraordinary prowess at a time when many women faced insurmountable barriers to success. Almanacs, eclipses and funding opportunities brought mathematicians and aspiring mathematicians together to advance the discipline. The historians of mathematics participating in this session will explore the spaces created for mathematicians to develop and grow professionally and personally.

Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education: Highlights from the Annual SIGMAA on RUME Conference, organized by Megan Wawro, Virginia Tech, and Shiv Smith Karunakaran, Michigan State University; Wednesday, 2:15–4:35 pm. 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 in undergraduate mathematics courses such as calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, real analysis, or abstract algebra; student and instructor engagement in mathematical practices that transcend particular content, such as defining and proving; and the impact of various instructional methods on equity and student learning. The 2020 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 22nd Annual SIGMAA on RUME Conference, which took place in Oklahoma City, OK in February/March 2019. The invited papers will be chosen to represent a diverse range of high quality research in this area. This session is sponsored by the SIGMAA on RUME.

Trends in Mathematical and Computational Biology, organized by Timothy Comar, Benedictine University, Hannah Highlander, University of Portland, Bori Mazzag, Humboldt State University, and Raina Robeva, Randolph-Macon College; Thursday, 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. This session is sponsored by BIOSIGMAA.

The Mathematics of the COMAP Modeling Contests, organized by Amanda Beecher, Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling, Ramapo College of New Jersey, and Michelle Isenhour, Naval Postgraduate School; Thursday, 1:00–3:50 pm. Since 1985, the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP) has held its international modeling contest in mathematics (MCM), adding its interdisciplinary competition (ICM) in 1999. During this 100-hour competition, teams of undergraduate students attack one of six open-ended problems, build a model and analyze the problem, and write a 20-page paper showcasing their work, their findings, and the implications of their findings in the context of the problem. Each year, the team of final judges meets in person to discuss the exciting and diverse range of mathematics that the students used to tackle these problems. In this session, judges will present some of the mathematical approaches that have been taken to solve these problems, showcasing student work and giving insights from the perspective of the competition leadership. 

Can Mathematics Help Us Trust Our Elections Again?, organized by Jonathon Hodge, Grand Valley State University, and Audrey Malagon, Virginia Wesleyan University; Friday, 8:00–10:20 am. News of election security has filled recent headlines. Investigations into foreign interference, outdated voting equipment, missing ballots, and gerrymandering have led to widespread public interest in this topic. The Department of Homeland Security has gone as far as designating elections part of our critical infrastructure. In a variety of areas, mathematicians and computer scientists have been working alongside lawyers, political scientists, and advocates to increase the integrity of our country’s elections and restore public trust.

This invited paper sessions highlights the issues that have the potential to undermine democracy and discusses how we can understand these issues mathematically. A diverse group of mathematical experts from a range of election-related areas will explain how mathematics can inform solutions to modern day election problems and show the mathematical community how they can use their own expertise to get involved. This session is sponsored by Verified Voting.

Experiencing Geometric Transformations and Evaluating Learning Progressions: Celebrating the Work of David W. Henderson, organized by Gregory Budzban, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Friday, 1:00–3:50 pm. David Henderson contributed to both pure mathematics and mathematics education during his distinguished career. His work continues to impact current research on learning progressions for the concept of function, and techniques for developing spatial mathematics in the elementary grades. 

His colleagues will describe their work with David concerning elementary grade learners grappling the idea of “straight” on planes, spheres and hyperbolic planes. The work is helping to create pedagogy that provides opportunities for children to experience mathematics as generative, subject to revision, and enmeshed with the arts. Other talks will focus on the development and empirical evaluation of a multi-strand learning progression for the concept of function. Henderson helped create a strand of the learning progression involving geometric transformations. Consistent with his emphasis on experiencing geometry through active participation to understand mathematics at a deeper level, this strand incorporates geometric transformations such as reflections and rotations considered as functions. Talks from his research collaborators on the associated NSF Grant will discuss the background and results of a qualitative analysis of student responses to learning progression-based geometry tasks.

Modernizing the Introductory Statistics Course, organized by Lisa Carnell, High Point University, and Alana Unfried, California State University, Monterey Bay; Saturday, 8:00–10:50 am. As we move further into the 21st century, many introductory statistics courses have not kept up with changes in the discipline. Further, current innovations seem to point in many different directions. Simulation-based inference continues to gain momentum, and the use of the statistical programming language R in introductory statistics is also growing, sometimes in conjunction with simulation-based inference, but often not. The rise of data science is impacting the choice of topics within the introductory statistics classroom as well. Lastly, the recently-updated GAISE report discusses a broad framework for implementing a modern introductory statistics course. These sometimes competing, sometimes synergistic frameworks can leave a professor wondering which direction is most appropriate. In this invited paper session, statistics education experts will discuss the future of the introductory statistics course, presenting research-based evidence for the directions they see the course heading in terms of content, pedagogy, and technology. Speakers will discuss when certain ideas are implemented in isolation and when used in conjunction with one another. Attendees will leave understanding the future direction of the introductory course, along with pros and cons of possible approaches.

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