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Student Clubs Active During 2020-2021 Academic Year

Our student organizations have been very active during this academic year despite the pandemic. Even though students and faculty have been physically separated, these organizations have helped maintain the department’s strong sense of community and camaraderie.

The current president of our student chapter of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) is graduate student Paula Kimmerling. Officers of the chapter applied for and were granted $1000 from WSU’s Graduate and Professional Student Organization, and used the funding to host speakers and events. The AMS chapter hosted two virtual colloquia for our department. On October 1st, Professor Chris Godsil from the University of Waterloo spoke on “Continuous Quantum Walks on Graphs”, and on March 4th, Professor Natasha Morrison from the University of Victoria described “The Typical Structure of Sets with Small Subset”.

The AMS chapter also hosted a series of workshops. In the fall, graduate student Jakob Streipel led a two-part LaTeX workship. In February, club officers Rachel Perrier, Ryan Whitehead and Paula Kimmerling led a workshop on MATLAB. In April, the chapter led a workshop on the learning management system Canvas, which will be implemented university–wide in September. The AMS chapter continued its tradition of weekly teas, and held several game nights – all in a virtual format.

Our graduate student chapter of the American Statistical Association (ASA) has also been active this academic year. The chapter president is graduate student Swarnita Chakraborty and the chapter is advised by faculty member Professor Nairanjana "Jan" Dasgupta. The ASA chapter organized a colloquium in October featuring Assistant Professor Katherine Banner from Montana State University who gave a talk on “Bats and Stats: Improving our Understanding of North American Bats through Listening in the Dark”. She explained how bat acoustic data can be analyzed to establish baseline estimates of bat species distributions.

In December, the ASA chapter hosted a 3 Minute Thesis competition in our department. Participants had three minutes to present their research to a panel of five faculty members who decided on the top three presentations. The winner was nominated to present at the College of Arts and Sciences level 3 Minute Thesis competition.

In the midst of the pandemic and social distancing, new graduate students hadn’t had the opportunity to meet the more senior students. To help them the ASA chapter organized a meet-n-greet event at the beginning of spring semester. The ASA chapter also opened an online forum among statistics students to discuss research, conferences, workshops, internship opportunities, and the graduate qualifying exams.

In April, the chapter conducted an introductory data analytics workshop, supervised by Professor Nairanjana "Jan" Dasgupta, for members of the North Central Washington Tech Alliance. This alliance is a non-profit organization of about 200 small and medium-size businesses across the region.

The ASA chapter supported a workshop for fifth-grade students that investigated data on the native sage grouse population. The project was led by Associate Professor Lisa Gloss of the WSU School for Molecular Biosciences. Finally, the chapter supported a workshop for school math coordinators to learn how to plan a small data analysis project that can be included in school curriculums.

The Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) is an organization that promotes and encourages women in mathematics. Our student chapter president is graduate student Jordan Broussard. The AWM hosted a Halloween-themed Trivia Night in the fall. Trivia Night was such a success that the AWM hosted three more trivia nights in the spring.

Perhaps the most popular event of the year was the Zoom December holiday party, cohosted by the AMS, ASA, and AWM chapters. This included an ugly sweater contest, several games and an exchange of holiday recipes. The party culminated with a reading of “The Night before Christmas” by department chairman Professor Charles Moore.

The Pre-service Teachers of Mathematics (PreToM) is a student organization for students interested in teaching mathematics. The club president is Hannah Holman and faculty advisor is Scholarly Associate Professor Kimberly McGinley Vincent. During fall semester 2020 the club invited educator Eric Price to share his experience teaching elementary school and middle school math. He also shared experience working as a principal, and his work on curriculum development with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Mr. Price is currently teaching math methods to future elementary school teachers. PreToM also hosted a panel of teachers to discuss teaching online or with hybrid models and how they adapted to the pandemic.

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