YSU MathFest team continues winning streak at D.C. competition


Participants in the 2015 MathFest are: Front Row, Crystal Mackey, Josiah Banks, Eric Shehadi, Emily Hoopes, Gabrielle Van Scoy, Jenna Wise and Monica Busser. Back row, Dr. Jacek Fabrykowski, Michael Baker, Megan Chambers, Richard Elrod, Dr. Angela Spalsbury, Dr. Tom Wakefield, Eric Stone, Zack While and Dr. George Yates.

Youngstown State University’s MathFest team continued its torrid pace of success, earning five awards for excellence at the competition earlier this month in Washington D.C.

“This is a remarkable achievement of our students,” said Tom Wakefield, associate professor, Mathematics and Statistics. “They continue to win more awards than any other school and provide the leadership to inspire others and be national examples as students from YSU, the STEM College and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.”

MathFest is the annual summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America and Pi Mu Epsilon. In all, 12 YSU students attended and gave oral presentations of their research projects. Five students won awards, the most from any university at the competition.

The YSU team has historically been one of the most successful at the annual event. YSU won its first award in 1989 and has won at least one award every year since, except in 1992 and 1994. YSU students won a record number of awards in 2013 with six. The team won five awards in 2005, 2006 and again this year.

Since 2000, YSU students have averaged 3.5 awards per year. No other school has won more than three awards in any one year.

The five students winning awards for excellence in student exposition and research this year are:

  • Monica E. Busser of Hubbard, Ohio. Applied Algebraic Geometry.
  • Megan Chambers of Boardman, Ohio. An agent-based model of Eleutherodactylus coqui in Hawaii.
  • Gabrielle K Van Scoy of Lisbon, Ohio. Mathematical Models of Bone Metabolism. Winner of the Janet L. Andersen Award for Outstanding Student Exposition or Research in Mathematical or Computational Biology.
  • Eric A. Shehadi of McDonald Ohio. Cellular Automata and Shrinking Cities. Winner of the SIAM Award for Outstanding Student Exposition or Research in Applied Mathematics.
  • Zack While of Austintown, Ohio. Futurama's Mind-Swapping Dilemma.

Also presenting were:

  • Eric Stone of Newton Falls, Ohio. Neurons as Dynamical Systems.
  • Emily A. Hoopes of Warren, Ohio. Developing an Educational Sudoku Application.
  • Crystal D. Mackey of Bristolville, Ohio. Spread of an Infectious Disease in a Semi-closed Environment.
  • Josiah M. Banks of Campbell, Ohio. Properties of the First Hurwitz Equation.
  • Jenna L. Wise of Hubbard, Ohio. Local-Global Property of Quadratic Residues.
  • Richard B Elrod of Austintown, Ohio. Topology in Floating-Point Arithmetic.
  • Michael A. Baker of Bristolville, Ohio. Optimization of a Nonlinear PID Loop.

Jenna Wise and Eric Shehadi also represented YSU at a special session for students in applied mathematics. They presented a poster of their collaborative project with the Youngstown Police Department to examine the workload among the police beats in the city of Youngstown. This work was conducted through a Preparing for Industrial Careers in Mathematics grant under the direction of Tom Wakefield.

Attending MathFest with the students was Wakefield; Angela Spalsbury, professor and chair; Jacek Fabrykowski, professor; George Yates, professor; and Thomas Madsen, assistant professor. Faculty who advised students on their projects included Wakefield; Fabrykowski; Stephen Rodabaugh, professor; Michael Crescimanno, professor; Alicia Prieto Langarica, assistant professor; Jozsi Jalics, associate professor; Paddy Taylor, associate professor; Marnie Saunders, associate professor, University of Akron; Luis Garcia-Puente, associate professor, Sam Houston State University and Rebecca Garcia, associate professor, Sam Houston State University.

Yates said MathFest is about more than winning awards, but it’s about “the lessons learned through the hard work needed to do a research project and in presenting the results in a clear and informative talk at a national meeting of mathematicians.”

“Many of our alumni have told us that this was one of the most useful experiences they had as an undergraduate at YSU, and this is our biggest reward,” he added.