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Senior Mathematics Majors Presented at Conference

Posted on Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Two Westminster College senior mathematics majors presented papers at the 12th annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics Jan. 29-31 at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

The conference was designed to give outstanding undergraduate women the opportunity to discuss their own research and to meet other women who share their interest in the mathematical sciences. In addition to the presentation of papers, undergraduates at the conference heard about graduate schools from current graduate students and about opportunities in government and industry from mathematicians with advanced degrees.

Approximately 250 undergraduates attended the conference. Westminster College was the only school with two presenters.

Kaitlyn McConville presented "Analyzing a Deficient Height Sample of Pennsylvanian National Guardsmen." Her research is the beginning of an analysis of characteristics, specifically height, of Pennsylvania National Guardsmen who enlisted between the mid-1800s and the early 1900s.

Human height has been used by economic historians as a proxy to measure economic well-being. Historical measures of height, especially those found in military records, present problems of accuracy and truncation due to minimum height requirements. McConville's project explored statistical and mathematical corrections to an empirical distribution seeking to correct these problems.

McConville is a daughter of Keith McConville of Wexford and a graduate of North Allegheny High School. Her research was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Carolyn Cuff, professor and chair of Westminster's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.

April Scudere presented "Catalan Numbers and Random Trees," the results of her summer Research Experience for Undergraduates with Dr. Patrick Bahls and Dr. Mark McClure at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.

Catalan numbers are an integer sequence that occurs in a variety of combinatorics problems. Scudere's paper explored the occurrence of these numbers in a particular tree construction and proved the Catalan numbers give the number of recurrent states.

Scudere is a daughter of Anthony and Barbara Scudere of Fowler, Ohio, and a graduate of Brookfield High School. Her faculty adviser is Dr. Pamela Richardson, Westminster assistant professor of mathematics.

Both students received travel/presentation grants from Westminster's Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

The Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning was created to enrich undergraduate education at Westminster through advancing world-class teaching as well as by participating in collaborations that address community and regional needs including strengthening K-12 education. The Undergraduate Research Initiative provides funding for students to conduct research and to present their research at regional and national conferences.

Contact Cuff at (724) 946-7291 or e-mail for more information.

Kati McConville
April Scudere