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Student-Centered Conference Mixing Math, Biology & Medicine

April 19, 2017

Math -conference

Scholarly Students: Now in its 34th year, Rose-Hulman’s Undergraduate Conference highlights scholarly work by undergraduate mathematics and statistics students in class projects and research experiences.

The use of big data, data science, statistics and mathematical modeling to uncover the mysteries of biology and medicine will be featured in presentations at Rose-Hulman’s Undergraduate Mathematics Conference on Friday and Saturday, April 21-22.

Now in its 34th year, the conference has a tradition of highlighting scholarly work accomplished by undergraduate mathematics and statistics students, along with professional mathematicians and scientists. Nearly 175 students and faculty from 26 colleges and universities will participate in two invited presentations, 27 student talks, and three short courses.

“The role of mathematics in the biological sciences and the development of medicine is often underappreciated,” says conference organizing committee member Eric Reyes, assistant professor of mathematics. “Therefore, we wanted this year’s conference to emphasize the opportunities available to those in the mathematical sciences for participating in the advancement of the biological sciences.”

Rose-Hulman’s Department of Mathematics has implemented an academic major in biomathematics to give students the analytical tools necessary to use applied math in support of the life sciences.

Meg Ehm, director of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline, will present a conference session on the use of human genetics in drug discovery and development. The Terre Haute native develops and manages external collaborations that bring together GSK with academic and industry groups to build innovative capabilities capitalizing on genetic data that will improve the next generation of medicines.

Meanwhile, statistics scholar Mark Inlow will discuss new mathematical and statistical analyses of Alzheimer’s brain atrophy. He is a lead data analyst with the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., and a consultant for the Indiana University School of Medicine, where he helps develop neuroimaging genomics algorithms for investigating Alzheimer's Disease. He has been a faculty member at Rose-Hulman, IU School of Medicine and University of Arizona, and has worked as a statistician for DuPont, Science Applications International, StataCorp, the Naval Health Research Center and the Naval Personnel Research and Development Center.

Six Rose-Hulman students will be making presentations, including:

  • Alexander Armstrong, senior chemical engineering major, “Low-Cost Modification of a Lab Scale Bioreactor to Simulate Oxygen Gradient Heterogeneities Present in Large Scale Industrial Bioreactors”
  • Addie Hanchett, senior mathematics major, “Imaging and Illumination of Theatrical Lighting Fixtures”
  • Angela Hanson, senior mathematics major, “Preventing Decreasing Subsequences in Stack Sorting Outputs”
  • Kylie Hess, senior mathematics major, “Planar Partitions of Specific Forms”
  • Peter Larson, senior mathematics and computer science major, “Artificial Neural Networks Applied to Image-to-Image Translation”
  • Ethan Petersen, junior mathematics and computer science major, “Grobner Bases of Neural Ideals”

Short courses will cover the following topics: “Mathematical Models of Oscillation and Synchronization on Networks,” by Mark Panaggio of Hillsdale College; “Modeling RNA Secondary Structures Using Graphs,” by Manda Riehl of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; and “Introduction to Data Science,” by Mark Daniel Ward of Purdue University.

Mathematics professors Joseph Eichholz, Sylvia Carlisle and Josh Holden joined Reyes in forming the organizing committee for this year’s conference, with assistance from Department of Mathematics Secretary Michelle Prather.

The conference is sponsored by the Sandia National Laboratories, Minitab, Maplesoft and Allstate Insurance.