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The 2021 Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the MAA

The One Hundredth Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America will be held virtually March 12-13, 2021. The registration form, schedule, Zoom links for talks, and information about the speakers can be found the virtual conference site linked here.

Meeting Highlights

This year's conference will include:

Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

Updated on March 12, 2021

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Meeting Schedule & Abstracts

The conference will run virtually 12:30 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. on Friday, March 12 and 8:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 13. The detailed schedule and abstracts for talks can be found here:

A few days before the conference, you will receive an email from Hawkes Learning (, our conference sponsor, with information on how to access the Zoom links for the talks. Please contact Dr. Amanda Harsy at with any questions concerning access.

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Plenary Talks

Dr. J. Alan Alewine
McKendree University
Something for Everyone

In the spirit of inclusivity, this presentation will appeal to students and instructors alike. Included is a teaching tidbit, an interesting proof of a well- known result, and musings on "being in the middle''.

About the Author: Alan Alewine hails from South Carolina, where he attended Furman University as an undergraduate and ate grits every day. He completed his doctoral work in analysis at Vanderbilt University and has been a faculty member at McKendree University since 2002. He has served as an associate provost since 2014 and admits he loves the administrative work! He is wild about roller coasters, having visited 11 amusement parks in 2019. (Twisted Colossus is his favorite coaster.)

Angela Antonou
University of St. Francis
Encouraging and Supporting Undergraduate Research

There are many challenges in engaging students in undergraduate mathematics research. These challenges can be exacerbated by limitations experienced by faculty at smaller private institutions. In my own experience, I learned to be diligent in seeking out potential topics for undergraduate research and to be flexible with the field to which this research would relate. Since many of our own students at University of St. Francis might not have the opportunity to complete their upper division courses (such as abstract algebra or real analysis) until their senior year, it was also important to seek out research activities that did not assume this background. In this talk, I'll share my own efforts to encourage students to participate in research activities (whether in small-scale or large-scale research experiences), which includes a discussion about topic identification and potential research formats, as well as successes and lessons learned.

About the Author: Angela Antonou is an assistant professor of mathematics from the University of St. Francis. She completed her doctorate work in algebra (specializing in table algebras) at Northern Illinois University in 2014, but recently has enjoyed facilitating undergraduate research and projects. Past projects have involved the study of generalized symmetric spaces, categorification of number systems, analyzing end-game results for recreational games, and others. Professionally, some of her favorite activities are working with the mathematics community to help broaden the understanding of mathematics within K-12 students and teachers. This has included work with Math Teachers' Circles, helping to run middle school and high school math camps, and connecting with local teachers to organize and/or run STEM-related events. Outside of work, she can often be found visiting various parks and forest preserves with her family, which includes her husband, two-year-old son, and dog. She is especially inspired by the curiosity of her son, who constantly motivates her to expand her creative capabilities.

Dr. Edward Kim
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
What does Minesweeper have to do with mathematical proofs?

I have a love-hate relationship with the game of Minesweeper. The game has had negative and positive influences on me as a mathematician. The game almost kept me from becoming a mathematician, yet simultaneously helped turn me into the mathematician I am today. Oddly enough (and amusingly enough), the game has had influences on how I think about proofs, both as a researcher and as a faculty member who regular teaches our foundations/bridges/proofs course.

Through understanding my students' struggles in abstract algebra and combining this with my own experiences when I was starting to become a mathematician, I desired to revisit the concepts of a foundations course from an intuitive lens. Removing esoteric descriptions of proof by cases gave way to Minesweeper. Reformatting syllogisms for visual clarity allowed students to quickly grapple with the task of proof.

In the most surprising twist, my students plunge into proving a type of theorem which never seems to appear in typical foundations courses, but are extremely typical of theorems they are expected to prove in abstract algebra and real analysis. Moreover, they thoroughly enjoy proving this type of theorem: more than once, I have had students make special requests that a theorem of this type is placed on an exam because they are so fun. Ask a question type that prepares them more thoroughly for algebra and analysis while simultaneously keeping them entertained? That's a win-win!

About the Author: Eddie Kim (he/him/his) is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He studied at UC Berkeley for a B.A. in math (2004) and at UC Davis for a Ph.D. in math (2010) with a focus on geometric combinatorics. His primary hobbies are piano and lindyhop.

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ISMAA Section NExT

Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) is a professional development program program of the MAA. This program is designed to support new college faculty in their teaching, scholarly, and professional activities and to help these new faculty members to get involved in the mathematical community beyond their own institutions. The success of Project NExT on the national level has prompted some MAA sections, including the Illinois section, to organize their own local versions of this program, called Section NExT.

The annual ISMAA Section NExT Program will be held in conjunction with the ISMAA Annual Meeting, this year held virtually on March 12-13, 2021. Anyone within their first four years of teaching mathematics (after finishing a master's or doctoral degree) at any two or four-year college or university in Illinois is eligible, as well as any graduate students at universities in Illinois who are completing their PhD this year and have a position in Illinois for the upcoming academic year. Newly selected ISMAA Section NExT Fellows will have their meeting registration, pre-conference workshop registration, banquet fees, and Friday lunch paid for by the ISMAA for the current and next year's ISMAA Annual Meetings.

The Section NExT Program will begin Friday late morning (March 12, 2021) with a pre-conference meet-n-greet lunch (bring your own lunch). The conference begins at 1pm. The Section NExT program will conclude on the morning of Saturday, March 13 with a round table discussion, preceding the closing address of the ISMAA meeting. The topic of the round table will be determined by the interest of the fellows.

Please send your application to Emily Olson at Application materials for ISMAA Section NExT Fellows can be accessed via the links below.

ISMAA Section NExT Application (MS Word)
ISMAA Section NExT Application (pdf)

For further information, please contact the Coordinator for the ISMAA Section NExT Program:

Emily Olson
Department of Mathematics and Computational Sciences
Millikin University, Decatur, IL

The application deadline for the 2021 ISMAA Section NExT Fellows is Friday, February 19, 2021.

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Business Meeting

The annual business meeting of the section will be held on Saturday, March 13, 2021, at 8:15 a.m. The agenda includes approval of the minutes of the 2020 meeting and election of board members. A copy of the unapproved minutes of the 2020 meeting is available for review.

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Registration Information

Registration for the meeting will be entirely online. You can find the registration form here: Registration Form

There is no registration fee for this year's meeting.

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