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Sessions for Undergraduate Students

The MAA endeavors to ensure that all the mathematical sessions at MathFest are accessible to a broad audience and undergraduate students are invited and encouraged to attend any of them. In addition, the MAA provides the following sessions that are aimed specifically at the interests of undergraduate students.

Pi Mu Epsilon J. Sutherland Frame Lecture

Bones and Teeth: Analyzing Shapes for Evolutionary Biology

Wednesday, July 26, 8:00 p.m. - 8:50 p.m., International Ballroom North

Ingrid Daubechies, Duke University

For the last 8 years, several of my students and postdocs as well as myself have been collaborating with biologists to design mathematical approaches and tools that would help automate biological shape analysis. The talk will review this collaboration, sketching both the mathematics and chronicling the interaction with our biological colleagues.

MAA-PME Student Reception

Wednesday, July 26, 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Undergraduate students are invited to come for refreshments and a welcome to MathFest.

Math Jeopardy

Wednesday, July 26, 5:30 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.

Answer: A fun undergraduate mathematics contest to lead off MathFest.
Question: What is Mathematics Jeopardy?

Four teams of students will provide the questions to go with the mathematical answers in many categories. All interested students in the audience can enter their names to be chosen to play on one of the four teams of four players. There will be prizes for all the participants.

Come cheer for your favorite team. The session will be emceed by Michael Berry

Robert W. Vallin, Lamar University
Michael W. Berry, University of Tennessee

Undergraduate Student Paper Session

MAA Student Paper Sessions

Thursday, July 27, 8:30 a.m. – 11:25 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
Friday, July 28, 8:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.

Students who wish to present at the MAA Student Paper Sessions at MathFest 2017 must be sponsored by a faculty advisor familiar with the work to be presented. Abstracts should be submitted at

Some funding to cover costs for student presenters is available through the MAA Student Travel Grant. The application will be available starting in April on the MAA Student Travel Grant webpage.

For additional information visit

T. J. Hitchman, University of Northern Iowa
Eric Ruggieri, College of the Holy Cross
Chasen Smith, Georgia Southern University

Undergraduate Student Paper Session

Pi Mu Epsilon Student Paper Sessions

Thursday, July 27, 3:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.
Friday, July 28, 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

PME Student members who wish to represent their chapters as student speakers or official delegates should visit the PME website at for more information.

Darci Kracht, Kent State University

MAA Chan Stanek Lecture for Students

Four Tales of Impossibility

Thursday, July 27, 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m., International Ballroom South

David Richeson, Dickinson College

"Nothing is impossible!" It is comforting to believe this greeting card sentiment; it is the American dream. Yet there are impossible things, and it is possible to prove that they are so. In this talk we will look at some of the most famous impossibility theorems—the so-called "problems of antiquity." The ancient Greek geometers and future generations of mathematicians tried and failed to square circles, trisect angles, double cubes, and construct regular polygons using only a compass and straightedge. It took two thousand years to prove conclusively that all four of these are mathematically impossible.

Undergraduate Student Activity: Mock Trading with SIG

Friday, July 28, 1:00 p.m. – 1:50 p.m., Continental Ballroom A

Join Susquehanna International Group (SIG) for a game that combines the world of trading with mathematical estimation. Working on a team, try to get better estimates for 8 numerical problems than the other teams as quickly as you can – if you fall behind, you’ll lose valuable opportunities to make money*. The only way to get ahead is to trade with other teams who have worse guesses than you do. Whoever’s got the best combination of math skills, strategy, and quick wits will take home the prize* -- will you be wolves or sheep?
*in-game money is fake, prize money is real!

Bill Chen and Sam Trabucco, Susquehanna International Group

Panel Session

Panel Session: Non-academic Mathematical Career Paths for Undergraduates

Friday, July 28, 2:35 p.m. – 3:55 p.m., Continental Ballroom C

Step one: earn a degree in mathematics. Step three: have a great career! What is step two? Whether you are a mathematics student looking for a job once you graduate or an advisor looking for advice to give to future job-seeking students, this session will help you gain new perspectives on nonacademic career experiences and what employers value in their employees. Panelists will share the paths to their current positions, the ways in which they utilize their mathematical background, and offer advice to others looking for employment in similar venues.

May Mei, Denison University

Courtney Adams, Siemens
Krystle Hinds, National Security Agency
Kim Plesnicar, Zurich North America

MAA Committee on Undergraduate Student Activities and Chapters (CUSAC)


Friday, July 28, 4:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m., Continental Ballroom B

They're called Fermi problems...

How heavy is the Eiffel Tower?
How many prime numbers have distinct digits?
How many calories would you be eating if you had "one of everything" at the Cheesecake Factory?

If you're looking for a mindbending mixture of math and trivia, look no further! Jane Street Capital presents The Estimathon contest: teams will have 30 minutes to work on 13 problems, ranging from totally trivial to positively Putnamesque. Can your team beat the all-time best score?? The top teams will receive prizes!

As in past years, we will run 2 contests. Feel free to show up to either one!

(Please show up 15 minutes before the start time of the contest you want to join.)

Our target schedule is as follows:

4:15 pm. Welcome, overview of rules and scoring.
4:30 pm. Estimathon contest #1
5:15 pm. Estimathon contest #2

Andy Niedermaier, Jane Street Capital

Pi Mu Epsilon Banquet

Friday, July 28, 6:00 p.m. - 7:45 p.m.

All PME members and their supporters are welcome. See the registration form for more information on this ticketed event.

MAA Ice Cream Social

Friday, July 28, 8:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Besides cake and ice cream, we will recognize all students who gave talks in the MAA Student Paper Sessions, and award prizes for the best of them. All are invited.

Poster Session

PIC Math Conference

Student Presentations: Saturday, 8:30 – 10:30 a.m., International Ballroom South
Industry Speakers: Saturday, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., International Ballroom South
Poster Session: Saturday, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., International Ballroom South

The PIC Math (Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences) program aims to prepare mathematical sciences students for industrial careers by engaging them in research problems that come directly from business, industry, or government. During the spring 2017 semester, mathematical sciences undergraduate students at 67 U.S. universities and colleges were enrolled in a PIC Math industrial mathematics and statistics research course. Each student team worked on a research problem and submitted a written report and video solution to the problem to the PIC Math student research competition. Several student teams will give presentations of their problems and solutions during this session. PIC Math is a program of the MAA and SIAM supported by NSF funding (DMS-1345499). See

Michael Dorff, Brigham Young University
Suzanne Weekes, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

MAA Mathematical Competition in Modeling (MCM) Winners

Saturday, July 29, 9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m., Salon C-4

About 450 American teams, each consisting of three undergraduates, entered the 2017 Mathematical Contest in Modeling in January. Teams choose one of two real-world problems. Teams have four days to deal with the MCM challenge and may use or access any inanimate source – computers, libraries, the Web, etc. MAA judges choose a winner for each problem. The two MAA winning teams of students will present their results of the MCM four-day challenge.

Ben Fusaro, Florida State University

Student Problem Solving Competition

Saturday, July 29, 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., Salon C-4

This event is the finals of the Problem Solving Competition. Universities and colleges that participate monthly on their own campuses by holding problem solving contests are invited to send a contestant. Each contestant will be required to solve a series of mathematical problems. Based on the outcome, a champion along with 2nd through 6th place winners will be named.

Richard Neal, American Society for the Communication of Mathematics

Graduate Student Paper Session

Great Talks for a General Audience: Coached Presentations by Graduate Students

Saturday, July 29, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Boulevard Rooms

Presenters in this session must be graduate students. While many graduate students will be asked to give a lecture to an audience consisting of undergraduates and non-mathematicians (possibly as part of a job interview), most students do not have much experience talking to a non-research audience. This session gives graduate students the opportunity to give a 20-minute talk aimed at an undergraduate audience (speakers should assume the audience has been only exposed to calculus and possibly some linear algebra). Both the talks and abstracts should be designed to excite a wide range of undergraduates about mathematics. All participants in this session will receive private feedback on their presentations from an established faculty member and an undergraduate student. Contact a session organizer for help writing an abstract or preparing your talk for a general audience. Optional Q&A sessions with the organizers will be held at MathFest for presenters to receive feedback on their talks. Graduate student participants in this session should also attend the graduate student workshop (What’s the Story?).

Jim H. Freeman, Cornell College
May Mei, Denison University
Aliza Steurer, Dominican University

MAA Committee on Graduate Students

Themed Contributed Paper Session

Math Potluck: A Student Swap Session

Saturday afternoon, July 29

Calling all undergrads and faculty advisors! Does your department have (or want!) a Math Club or student chapter of the AWM, MAA, PME, or SIAM? This session will provide a forum for sharing your favorite or most successful student activity. The presenter(s) will provide a "how-to" for a single math event that a math club or student chapter has held. Together, we will build a toolbox of successful activities to take back to each of our campuses! Following the morning presentations, a free lunch will be held for all presenters and attendees of this session to promote continued discussion and collaboration amongst participants. Please indicate in your abstract submission whether your group is a Math Club or student chapter of AWM, MAA, PME, or SIAM.

Alissa Crans, Loyola Marymount University
Jacqueline Jensen-Vallin, Lamar University
Candice Price, University of San Diego
Alejandra Alvarado, Eastern Illinois University
Dora Ahmadi, Morehead State University
Timothy Fest, SIAM
Angela Spalsbury, Youngstown State University

This session is jointly sponsored by the AWM, MAA, PME, and SIAM