Student poster selected at math conference

Yiting XuA display representing the research of University of Washington Bothell student Yiting Xu and two others was selected as an outstanding poster presentation at the 2017 Joint Mathematics Meeting in January in Atlanta.

The conference bills itself as the largest mathematics meeting in the world. There were more than 300 posters from almost 500 students and only the top 15 percent in each mathematical topic were designated as outstanding.

A total of four groups with 11 students who presented posters were from UW Bothell’s summer Mathematics Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).

Funded by the National Science Foundation, this summer the REU will bring nine students to campus (June 19 – Aug. 11) to work with faculty mentors. The application deadline is Feb. 24. Apply online. The program aims to increase participation of underrepresented groups in math research and graduate school.

“That was an awesome experience for me,” says Xu, above left, a dual major in electrical engineering and mathematics planning to graduate later this year.

“I enjoyed it a lot. We had four great teams working together and having fun together, and I’ve learned so much math from the program. Also the relationship that we’ve built with our mentors is very valuable,” said Xu, who plans to take a gap year before applying to graduate school. She says she’s grateful for the support she received at UW Bothell that allowed her to participate.

Milagros LoretoPresenting a poster at the mathematics conference with more than 200 professional mathematicians judging is a great opportunity to have undergraduate research noticed by experts, says Milagros Loreto, right, the mentor for Xu’s group.

Their research topic, “A Spectral Subgradient Algorithm of Non-Smooth Optimization,” addresses problems that arise from image/signal processing and data mining, say Loreto, an assistant professor in the division of engineering and mathematics.

Even after most of the REU students leave campus, the mentoring continues by email with the goal of publishing the research and helping the students enter graduate school, Loreto says.

“I do my best to make the research process enjoyable for them, since it is the best way to assure they will continue in this path,” Loreto says.

The other members in Xu’s group were David Kotval of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and David Richmond of Kennesaw State University. REU students  come from across the country and right here on our UW campuses. Three other participants in last summer's REU were UW students Derek Thurmer, Kayla Neal and Gianni Krakoff.