After a three-year hiatus, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Student Chapter from UC Merced held its fifth annual Central Valley regional conference on campus.
The UC Merced SIAM Student Chapter hosted the mid-April conference in the Dr. Vikram and Priya Lakireddy Grand Ballroom, where undergraduate and graduate students from universities in the Central Valley and the central coast gathered with faculty. Attending schools included UCs Davis and Santa Cruz, California State universities Fresno and Stanislaus and the Naval Postgraduate School.
Each chapter was introduced before attendees were treated to the student poster session, which featured research presentations from undergraduate and graduate students. The presentations spanned a variety of topics from detecting genomic variants and gas dynamics to topological data analysis.
The poster session also included presentations from the participants of the Applied Mathematics Challenge (AMC), a team coding challenge that takes place over the week of spring break at UC Merced. This year’s challenge problem centered around path search methods and judged the students’ understanding and explanation of their methods and results.
“I participated this year because I enjoyed the challenge last year and was excited to apply the knowledge I have gained,” UC Merced undergraduate student Ryan Milstrey said.
After the poster session, the following prizes were awarded:
- Best Graduate Presentation: Matteo Polimeno, UC Merced, for his poster, “Thermodynamically Consistent Formulation of Stochastic Chemistry for Modeling Reactive Gas Dynamics at Small Scales”
- Best Graduate Presentation: Austin Van Dellen, Naval Postgraduate School, for his poster, “Computation of Adversarial Manipulations Under Physical Access”
- Best Undergraduate Presentation: Emma Andrade, Fresno State, for her poster, “K-Means Clustering and Recommendation System Approach to Detect Genomic Variant Interactions”
- Best Undergraduate Presentation: Conor Olive, UC Merced, for his poster, “Box Model Simulation of Turbidity Currents”
- Honorable Mention for Best Undergraduate Presentation: Iliana Alvarez, CSU Stanislaus, for her poster, “Early Classification of Transients using RAPID”
- Applied Math Challenge Team Winners: Tejas Bhartiya, Yulin Lin and Ryan Milstrey
Three students were also presented with the SIAM Certificate of Recognition for their outstanding efforts and accomplishments on behalf of their respective student chapters:
- Fresno State SIAM Student Chapter President Haille Williams
- UC Merced SIAM Student Chapter Secretary Jocelyn Ornelas Muñoz
- UC Merced SIAM Student Chapter President Jacqueline Alvarez
“I feel very grateful for conferences like this one because I was a student at a small university (CSU Bakersfield) and events such as this encouraged me to set ambitious goals for myself,” Naval Postgraduate School Operations Research Professor Robert Bassett said. “Students had the opportunity to present research projects they've conducted to an enthusiastic audience. Because these presentations are more collegial than what you might find at a larger conference, it is certainly a great way for students to get practice presenting their work in a welcoming environment.”
Lior Horesh, a principal research scientist and senior manager of the Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science group at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center, served as this year’s keynote speaker.
His talk, “Should we Derive or Let the Data Drive? Symbiotizing Data-Driven Learning and Knowledge-Based Reasoning to Accelerate Symbolic Discovery,” focused on attempts to bridge the divide between statistical artificial intelligence and symbolic artificial intelligence.
“I was honored to be a keynote speaker at the Fifth Central Valley Regional SIAM Student Chapter Conference. The student poster session was an excellent opportunity to interact informally with truly brilliant students, learn about their research work and ambitions. I was blown away by the level of creativity, insights, research maturity and technical depth the students demonstrated. Hopefully, my talk inspired students to pursue their passions and explore new frontiers in mathematics,” he said.
The final event of the day included Math Magic: Problem of the Month and Math Lotería. The Problem of the Month is an ongoing monthly math challenge led by faculty.
The Math Magic event included audience participation in a math dance, which got people moving and laughing, followed by Math Lotería (Mexican bingo). UC Merced SIAM Student Chapter officers designed the Lotería-inspired cards, featuring images of famous mathematicians, formulas, shapes, Greek letters and other math symbols.
“Overall, the conference was well organized with an engaging poster session and plenary speaker,” Fresno State Professor and SIAM Chapter Faculty Advisor Mario Bañuelos, a UC Merced alum, said. “The program was diverse in engaging activities and having each SIAM chapter share a few words at the beginning of the event was a fantastic opportunity to learn about what the surrounding universities were doing.”
The conference was the final event for Professor Noemi Petra, who is stepping down after eight years as the UC Merced group’s faculty advisor. Professor Erica Rutter will take on the role of faculty advisor in Fall 2023 as Petra will lead the creation of the Northern and Central California (NorCenCal) SIAM Section.
“It was a great privilege to mentor the UC Merced SIAM Student Chapter throughout these past years. Their dedication to promote applied and computational mathematics to undergraduate and graduate students has no limits. Every year, they push the bar higher and go above and beyond to connect the student community on our campus and in the California Central Valley region,” Petra said. “I am very proud of what the UC Merced SIAM Student Chapter has accomplished this year and in the past.”