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Spring 2007 - Column

Some Student Views of the Joint Math Meetings

Ian Rogers
- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Central Michigan University REU Alumni

The 2007 New Orleans Joint Mathematics Meetings were a great experience. Presenting the research I had worked on at a national meeting was really exciting for me, as I had never presented at a major conference before. At the same time, seeing the presentations given by other researchers was interesting, and I was astounded by just how much is going on in the math world. There were so many talks I wanted to go to, I just didn't have time for them all. My personal favorite part, though, was that I really got the feeling that I was starting to become a part of the mathematics community, rather than being on the outside looking in.

Seeing talks is not all that is to be had at the JMM, though. The day before I was to give my presentation, I was stressing out a little bit and worrying about being prepared. That night, I ran into a professor from my school. We talked a bit, and parted with him saying, "Make sure to have fun while you're here." This snapped me out of my nervousness, and reminded me that I had come to this conference to enjoy myself. I made sure to get out and see the town a little bit and have some fun, though I wish I had more time to do so. If you go to the JMM, I urge you to schedule in leisure time and to remember that if you're at a math conference and not having fun, you're doing something wrong.

Yvette Monachino
- Binghamton University, Rose-Hulman REU Alumni

I feel that the guidelines for the poster contest could have been presented better. I don't feel that I really knew what was expected of me until I saw other posters. This could also be because I have never been in a poster contest like this before. I did enjoy the fact that the judges were very nice and made me feel comfortable when I explained the material. The questions weren't too difficult for Robert or me to answer. I also liked that the environment wasn't very competitive and everyone was very friendly. Overall I would say I enjoyed the poster contest.

I also enjoyed the conference for the atmosphere, not just the math. The people who hosted the talks were very friendly and I enjoyed the fact that they introduced themselves. The only problem was that I am an undergraduate, and a good amount of the talks were over my head. I found myself understanding the first couple of minutes and then getting lost. I don't expect any of the professors or graduate students to alter their talks to my level. My suggestion is that if a professor or graduate student thinks the talk could reach an undergraduate level there could be a little star denoting this. This is because the titles didn't really tell me whether I'd follow the talk or not. I found that I just had to go to the talk and listen, usually it was a hit or miss. Another thing that I did learn, other than a little math, was the difference between good talks and bad talks. I did see things that I would like to do in the future in my own talks and other things that I would not like to do. Overall whether I could understand the material or not, everyone was very pleasant and I appreciated that.

Robert Lemke Oliver
- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Rose-Hulman REU Alumni

This January, I was given the opportunity to attend the Joint Mathematics Meeting in New Orleans. I participated in the undergraduate poster session, with the work I did at an REU at Rose-Hulman this past summer. The most interesting part, however, was being able to attend the talks. I began by going to a session on invariant theory for three-manifolds, but quickly found myself to be way out of my depths. After the initial shock, I was able to find some sessions that were more suited to my level, and I began to really enjoy myself. I plan on going to grad school in math, and eventually becoming a professor. These talks gave me a much better idea of what kinds of questions are being looked at, and what areas are interesting to me. For that reason, I found attending the meeting to be incredibly valuable. I would definitely recommend attending the meeting to anyone who is seriously interested in math. Besides, who wouldn't want to live and breathe math for four days?


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