Four students at College of Coastal Georgia embarked on a special journey into the world of mathematics this summer.
Darius Hammond, Andrea Olvera, Jayla Maxwell and Jose Cruz-Ramirez worked together for almost two months to create new math, by focusing on quantifying the number of zeros in a certain class of random polynomials and finding a class with more zeros.
Their new learning experience was supported through the National Science Foundation via the Mathematical Association of America. The MAA encourages math faculty to apply to host a National Research Experience for Undergraduates Program at their institution.
Dr. Aaron Yeager, an assistant professor of mathematics at CCGA, and Dr. Syvillia Averett, an associate professor of mathematics, hosted the NREUP this summer at the college to engage underrepresented students in mathematics, according to a post shared on the college’s website.
Yeager and Averett applied for a grant to host the program, and students received a stipend of approximately $5,500 for related expenses like housing, food and travel. Students earned college credit and now have the opportunity to publish their research and submit it to be presented at undergraduate math conferences.
The program lasted for eight weeks, during which the students learned how to professionally type math using LaTeX, a typesetting system designed to produce technical and scientific documentation. They also learned how to present their research.
Students worked in teams of two on separate parts of the math, then switched their findings with the other group to see how they derived at their results. The opportunity to be engaged in a new learning experience drew the students to the program.
“I’ve always been interested in math,” said Hammond, a junior majoring in data science and minoring in math and psychology. “But as I’ve been doing this research, it made me want to get more into it.”
Olvera said this program served as a deciding factor on whether to change her major.
“Originally, I was a nursing major. I like helping people, which is why it was hard to transition and see what I can do in this field and still help people,” she said. “I learned that there are a lot of opportunities to do data science in the medical field, so I’m very excited.”
She is now a junior majoring in data science.
Yeager asked the students to focus in their research on a certain class of random polynomials that no one else has explored before.
“We found that our class has more zeros than the traditional class that has been looked at,” he said. “The zeros of these polynomials are used to make approximations.”
Yeager, who has worked in the field of random polynomials for eight years, reviews academic journals, and he said he has not seen anyone explore this area of polynomials. He plans to submit their research to different undergraduate math conferences, such as the Young Mathematicians Conference hosted by The Ohio State University, and the Eagle Undergraduate Mathematics Conference at Georgia Southern University.
Although the NREUP grant needs to be applied for every year, Yeager hopes to keep this math research opportunity available for future students.