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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. Full descriptions of some events are found elsewhere in the program.

Pi Mu Epsilon J. Sutherland Frame Lecture

Alice in Numberland --- Adventures in Cryptography, Number Theory, and Life

Wednesday, July 31, 8:00 p.m. – 8:50 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Grand Ballroom A

Alice Silverberg, University of California, Irvine


I will give an account of some of my adventures in the wonderlands of mathematics and cryptography, offering some food for thought on how mathematics can be useful in cryptography, and mentioning some useful things I learned along the way that I wish I had learned sooner.


Alice Silverberg is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of California, Irvine, with an additional appointment in Computer Science. Her research areas are cryptography and number theory. She earned her undergrad degree summa cum laude from Harvard University, a Masters degree and PhD from Princeton University, and a Master of Advanced Study degree from the University of Cambridge. She was also a Professor at the Ohio State University, and has held visiting positions at industrial labs and international research centers.

Silverberg is an inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society and a Fellow of the Association for Women in Mathematics, and has been awarded Humboldt, Bunting, Sloan, IBM, and NSF Fellowships. She has given over 300 invited lectures, has consulted for film and television, writes about Alice's Adventures in Numberland (at, and occasionally writes mathematically-inspired Scottish country dances.


Social Event

MAA-PME Student Reception

Wednesday, July 31, 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., DECC 200


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


Undergraduate Student Paper Session

Pi Mu Epsilon Student Paper Sessions

Thursday, August 1, 8:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. – 6:05 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Rooms 235, 236, 250, 264
Friday, August 2, 8:30 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – 6:05 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Rooms 235, 250, 264


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

Please note: all student presenters are required to be registered for MAA MathFest.

Organizer: Darci Kracht, Kent State University


Social Event

Pi Mu Epsilon Banquet

Friday, August 2, 6:00 p.m. - 7:45 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Junior Ballroom C


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


Math Jeopardy

Wednesday, July 31, 5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Rooms 206, 207, & 208


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, August 1, 8:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. – 6:05 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Rooms 211, 212, 234
Friday, August 2, 8:30 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – 6:05 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Rooms 211, 234


The MAA Student Paper Sessions abstract portal is now live! Please click here to submit an abstract.

Eric Ruggieri, College of the Holy Cross
Chasen Smith, Georgia Southern University


MAA Chan Stanek Lecture for Students

Secrets of Grad School Success

Thursday, August 1, 1:30p.m. – 2:20 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Grand Ballroom A

Mohamed Omar, Harvey Mudd College


Around this time of year many rising seniors and even rising juniors are wondering what to do after college, and many contemplate the idea of going to graduate school. Naturally, they seek advice from peers, professors at their college and the internet. In this talk, we'll give some pretty unconventional advice based on the speakers experiences through the same process.


Dr. Mohamed Omar is an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. He is one of the 2018 recipients of the MAA's Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching, and has been featured online in Forbes and Scientific American. Dr. Omar's mission is to change the world from math phobic to math loving, fiercely devoting his life to inclusion in mathematics.


Undergraduate Student Activity

Color Addition Across the Spectrum of Mathematics

Friday, August 2, 1:30 p.m. – 2:20 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Junior Ballroom C


In this talk we consider two family style games whose rules are mathematical in nature, but do not require any explicit mathematics, beyond simple counting, during game play. Both games are based on color mixing rules which yield a nice geometric visual presentation and admit several mathematical interpretations. We will discuss the nature of these color mixing rules, explore the related mathematical structures and see how all of this is related to finger paints and lightbulbs.

Presenter: Ron Taylor, Berry College


Panel Session

Career Paths in Business, Industry, and Government

Friday, August 2, 10:10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Room 263


You’re about to earn a degree in mathematics. Now what? You may be surprised to know that teaching isn’t your only option. Mathematical knowledge is a valued commodity, and there are many interesting job opportunities for mathematicians that don’t necessarily involve teaching. 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 career experiences in business, industry, and government and what employers value in their employees. Panelists will share their paths to their current positions and offer advice to others looking for employment in similar fields.

Emille D. Lawrence, University of San Francisco
David Stone, Georgia Southern University
Jeb Collins, University of Mary Washington
Aihua Li, Montclair State University

Richard Uber, Air Force Institute of Technology
Ryan Snyder, State Auto Insurance Companies
Mary Sefcik, Cleveland Clinic
Deming Zhuang, Citi Group

MAA Committee on Undergraduate Students (CUSA)
MAA Committee on Business, Industry, and Government Mathematics (BIG)


Social Event


Thursday, August 1, 4:00 p.m. - 5:45 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Room 232


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:

4:00 pm. Welcome, overview of rules and scoring.
4:15 pm. Estimathon contest #1
5:00 pm. Estimathon contest #2

Organizer: Andy Niedermaier, Jane Street Capital


Social Event

MAA Ice Cream Social

Friday, August 2, 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Junior Ballroom C


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.


Graduate Student Paper Session

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

Saturday, August 3, 9:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Junior Ballroom C


In this session graduate students give talks aimed at an undergraduate audience. Both the talks and abstracts should be designed to excite a wide range of undergraduates about mathematics.

Jim H. Freeman, Cornell College
May Mei, Denison University
Ranjan Rohatgi, Saint Mary's College
Aliza Steurer, Dominican University

Sponsor: MAA Committee on Graduate Students


USA Problem Solving Competition

Saturday, August 3, 9:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Room 264


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 upon the outcome, a champion along with second through sixth place winners will be named.

Organizer: Richard Neal, The American Society for Mathematics (ASFM)


Panel Session

Graduate School in Mathematics: What’s it Like, and How Do You Get In?

Saturday, August 3, 10:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Room 263


This panel is for undergraduates considering graduate school in the mathematical sciences. Graduate students in mathematics must take courses, pass qualifying exams, write a thesis, and serve as a Teaching Assistant. We discuss how these may vary from school to school and then focus on the application process: What do you need to apply? What does it take to get in? How many schools should you apply to? When will you hear? etc. Panelists will include several graduate chairs and current graduate students.

Ruth Haas, University of Hawaii