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Senior Math Students Win Research Poster
Award at Joint Mathematics Conference

RELEASED: Jan. 25, 2008

Eric Weber and Christopher DeCleene
Eric Weber (left) and Christopher DeCleene, along with fellow senior Mitch Phillipson (not pictured), won a poster award at the national Joint Mathematics Meeting.

EAU CLAIRE — Three mathematics seniors at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire won a poster award at the annual Joint Mathematics Meeting held Jan. 6-9 in San Diego, Calif. The annual joint meeting brings together members of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America.

Christopher DeCleene, Appleton, and Eric D. Weber, Rochester, Minn., made the presentation for the poster "Deformations of Two Dimensional Associative Infinity Algebras," which showcased research done by DeCleene, Weber and Mitch Phillipson, Chippewa Falls, the third contributor, who was presenting on another poster at the conference.

The students conducted their research in collaboration with professor of mathematics Dr. Michael Penkava.

"It is a pretty significant event for undergraduates to win a poster presentation at the Joint Mathematics Meeting," said Penkava. "One mathematician stopped by the poster and suggested to Mitch that he could hardly believe that undergraduates were doing this kind of work. Mitch then explained the results to him, and the mathematician said, 'It is clear you understand this material a lot better than I do.' These three students worked very hard and did some excellent research, and I am quite proud of their work," Penkava said.

"Working with Dr. Penkava has been an eye-opening experience, not just to the mathematics, but to the possibilities we have because of doing research," said Weber.

"The Joint Mathematics Conference allowed us to see what professors and other students are working on across the country, and our success at the poster competition has made us more confident in our level of research ability," added DeCleene.

Weber said the conference experience and UW-Eau Claire's support of his undergraduate research played a large part in his decision to pursue a doctoral degree.

Associate professor of mathematics Dr. Simei Tong, who also attended the conference, said that UW-Eau Claire was the only UW system school with poster displays at the conference, joining such institutions as Harvard, Princeton, Cal Tech, UW-Berkeley and others. The other UW-Eau Claire poster, presented by Phillipson, was " Optimal Evacuations in Emergency Situations," a report of the ongoing faculty/student research project by Phillipson and senior computer science major Tanya Smeltzer, Fall Creek, under faculty advisers Tong and computer science professor and department chair Dr. Michael Wick. Tong said 170 posters were accepted by the national Joint Mathematics Meeting, and 185 mathematicians were involved in the judging teams, with each poster reviewed by three mathematicians. Only 37 out of the 170 received awards, which were not ranked.

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NW

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