It’s not often that undergraduates get to present their research to leading professionals in the field, but Trevecca senior Dylan Green got that opportunity earlier this semester.
In January, Green represented Trevecca at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore. The annual conference is a combination of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). The meetings provide an opportunity for mathematicians to showcase their research and attend seminars.
Green’s presentation summarized work from his summer research experience for undergraduates (REU). REUs, which are sponsored by the National Science Foundation, provide an opportunity for students from colleges and universities across the country to complete a research project in math or science.
Green spent his REU at Lafayette College, located in Easton, Pa. His group was comprised of three peers and two mentors who facilitated the project.
“We researched an area of math called graph theory,” Green explained. “Our research was specifically looking at graphs where the edges were colored, at the idea of distance in the graph…[and the idea] of maximum proper diameter, which is essentially taking the idea of distance, seeing what the greatest distance is in the graph that you have to go (proper distance), and then trying to characterize graphs where the maximum proper diameter is very large.”
After completing this portion of their research, Green said his group started looking at different families of graphs, graphs that have similar structures.
That decision proved important.
“[We wanted to see] when [the families of graphs] can achieve a maximum proper diameter, and we actually ended up characterizing a new category of graphs.”
That’s when Green and his group applied to present their findings at the Joint Mathematics Meetings.
The Joint Mathematics Meetings presentations generally last about 20 minutes and include a Q&A session afterward. Green has also presented his work at two other MAA conferences, and his group is currently in the process of publishing their findings in a math research journal.
“We’re very proud of how he’s worked,” said Dr. Stephanie Cawthorne, a professor of mathematics at Trevecca who also attended the Joint Meetings. “There’s just the sense that he wants to give back, to help with other students. Dylan has done very well, and it has truly been a privilege to have him in class and to get to know him.
“He worked well in his research group… and they presented well at the conference,” Cawthorne continued. “The Joint Meetings are large—about 5,000 or 6,000 mathematicians attend each year. [Green’s group] presented as part of Student Talks, and the moderator even commented them on what a nice job they had done. It is such a privilege to see our students going out and doing so well.”
While the REU selection process was highly competitive—more than 180 people applied for Green’s REU and only four were accepted—Green recommends that more Trevecca students take advantage of the opportunity and apply.
“It basically replaces what a summer job would be, except your work is to go in and do research every day on something that you like,” he said. “For anyone in science or math who is thinking about going to graduate school, REUs are really good because they give you research experience outside of Trevecca. It looks really good on application—plus they’re just a lot of fun.”
Green, who is double-majoring in math and physics, will be attending a math graduate program after completing his last semester at Trevecca in May.