SIAM's Colorado Chapters Hold Regional Student Conference

May 1, 2005

Representing the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, at the SIAM Front Range Applied Mathematics Student Conference were faculty members Greg Morrow (far left) and Radu Cascaval (far right), Sangui Lee, an undergraduate math major (second from left), and Kristopher Marcus, a graduate student inmathematics.

Alejandro Cantarero

On Saturday, March 5, the SIAM student chapters of Colorado held a regional conference, the SIAM Front Range Applied Mathematics Student Conference, at the University of Colorado, Denver. Planning for the conference had begun at Student Day, during last summer's SIAM Annual Meeting in Portland. Inspired by the SIAM Gators at the University of Florida (see "By Students for Students: SIAM Gators Welcome Chapters Nationwide to Florida Conference,", representatives and faculty advisers of the three chapters--at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Denver--started to trade ideas.

In the course of the day-long joint conference, held with financial support from SIAM, 24 students (10 undergraduates and 14 graduate students) gave talks or made poster presentations. The students had come from six different schools, all located along the Front Range. With more than forty attendees, including students, faculty, friends, and family, each speaker addressed a good-sized audience, despite the parallel sessions necessitated by the large number of participants.

One interesting session was devoted to students who had participated in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling in February. Another highlight was the invited plenary address, given by Stanley Osher of UCLA. In his talk, "Mathematics in the Real World and the Fake World," he discussed level set methods, computer graphics, and image processing. The students were intrigued by the talk, and the organizers were gratified that a mathematician of Osher's reputation had accepted their invitation.

Stanley Osher (second from left), the plenary speaker, shown here with (left to right) James Curry, chair of the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, former SIAM president Tom Manteuffel, also from Boulder, and Bill Briggs of the University of Colorado at Denver, SIAM's vice president for education.

Student speakers had the option of giving 12- or 25-minute presentations, each followed by a short period for questions. Some students discussed application areas, including analysis of fMRI data and precipitation return levels in Colorado; others elected to focus on methods, including nonlinear interpolation and iterative methods for solving nonsymmetric systems. All agreed that the conference provided a good environment for students and faculty from different universities to interact. Students had the opportunity to see the kinds of research and projects being undertaken at other schools in the area. For undergraduates, it was a great chance to learn about graduate-level research being done in their fields, and graduate students got a taste of topics in other areas of applied mathematics.

Overall, attendees rated the conference a great experience. "For a local student conference it went very well, and there was a good showing," said Adam Ringler, a student at the Colorado School of Mines. Many participants were excited about the potential for interactions among the schools in Colorado. Gary Olson, a coach for the MCM teams at the University of Colorado, Denver, pointed out that the conference offered "a good chance to share ideas, compare papers, and talk about experiences."

The response of the speakers and attendees was extremely encouraging to the conference organizers, who had worked for months to pull the Denver conference together. "It was great to see students take such an active role in organizing an event of this size," said Anne Dougherty, adviser to the SIAM Undergraduate Student Chapter at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "Hopefully, we will continue to see such an interest in promoting interaction between the students along the Front Range."

Alejandro Cantarero graduates this month from the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he majored in applied mathematics and computer science and served as president of the SIAM undergraduate student chapter. He will begin a PhD program in mathematics at UCLA this fall.

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