This year’s Math Symposium a success

Sarah Yaacoub

Presenting groundbreaking mathematical research is perhaps not what comes to mind when imagining a college student’s typical Friday night, but on Nov. 17, it’s how 28 undergraduate and graduate students speaking at the WKU Mathematics Symposium spent theirs.

The symposium is an annual event hosted by Western’s math department and sponsored by Ogden College of Science and Engineering and the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, and this year marked the 37th occurrence. Students and faculty from Western Kentucky and other universities, including some out-of-state institutions, gathered on the first floor of Snell Hall at 3:00 p.m. on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 17 to begin registering to attend the speeches. Half an hour later, Dr. Ed Pegg made the first keynote speech about his work in lines and points, presenting the audience with a series of questions—some solved, some unsolved—about line theory.

“I think you’ll find it’s a very friendly environment for giving talks,” Bruce Kessler, head of the WKU Mathematics Department, said during his welcome speech.

One of the goals of the event is to involve the student body and allow students as well as professors to share their mathematical and computational findings in a positive setting. Presenting research projects is a requirement for some degree programs and awards, so the mathematics symposium can serve as preparation for larger events or as an opportunity to gain mandatory credit.

“It’s geared toward both math faculty and students in our math classes,” Kessler said, clarifying that the event was not specific to mathematics majors, but it was for anyone on campus with an interest in math.

The symposium’s attendance is on an upward curve, with this year’s attendance “as good or better” than that of the past two to three years, according to Kessler.

“There was standing room only at several of the presentations,” said Kessler. “We may need to think about a larger space in the future if it keeps growing.” As part of its partnership with the Ogden College, the symposium takes place in the classrooms and lecture halls in Snell, but seating was insufficient at some of the talks that evening due to an unexpected rise in attendance.

Reporter Sarah Yaacoub can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahyaacoub1.