Mathematics students present at national MathFest conference

Seven Marshall University students attended MathFest 2017, a conference hosted by the Mathematics Association of America (MAA), July 26-29 in Chicago, with five of them giving presentations and two of them walking away with awards for outstanding presentations.

Two presented in sessions for the math honor society Pi Mu Epsilon, receiving distinction for their presentations. Marshall senior Kiersten Potter, who is majoring in secondary math education, chemistry education and applied mathematics, gave a presentation titled "Explicit construction of regular polygons," in which she used origami. Senior Steven Rollins, who is majoring in statistics, applied mathematics, economics and finance at Marshall, gave a presentation titled "Optimizing refuse collection in Huntington." Each received a stipend for their outstanding presentations.

Three other Marshall students gave presentations as well. Kira Owsley, a junior, presented "On the existence of primitive cycle systems" regarding graph theory. Her information was based on work she completed through a NASA Space Grant project in the spring of 2017 and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

Kevin McDaniel, a graduate student, presented on "Optimizing ambulance service in Wayne County, West Virginia," based on research he had done in collaboration with Wayne County 911. His research will be used as the county considers changes to its ambulance system for next year.

David Hannan, a senior, gave a poster presentation on "Optimizing refuse collection" based on information he had gathered while working with Rollins as part of a Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematics project. The goal of PIC Math projects is to engage mathematics students in open-ended community-based research projects.

The Marshall students were among over 200 college students from across the country. This is the third summer in which Marshall has taken students to the conference, said Dr. Michael Schroeder, an associate professor of mathematics.  Not only does it get Marshall’s name out there and give students an enriching experience, but it gives students some perspective about what they’re able to accomplish, Schroeder said.

"They can see the quality and caliber of work they’re doing is on par with students from an array of institutions, Ivy League or otherwise," he said.

The annual conference is sponsored by the MAA, which aims to advance the mathematical sciences, especially at the collegiate level. It’s the largest professional society that focuses on mathematics accessible at the undergraduate level, and its members include teachers at the college and high school levels, graduate and undergraduate students, mathematicians, computer scientists, statisticians and others. For more information about MathFest 2017, visit