Mathematics Conference Focuses on Encouraging and Aiding Doctoral Students
The United States is facing a shortage of American mathematics students in doctoral programs. The numbers dwindle even more when it comes to African American students.
“We’re underrepresented across the board in the sciences, engineering and mathematics,” said Duane Cooper ‘82, associate professor of mathematics. “We lose people in mathematics at every level, so by the time we get to the doctoral level, there are just not many of them left.”
That makes events like the Morehouse mathematics department’s Jan. 21 conference, “Shared Success and Struggle: A Conference of Morehouse Men of Mathematics,” so important.
The conference, held at Atlanta’s Wyndham Midtown Hotel and funded by grant support from the National Security Agency, focused on encouraging, mentoring and advising first-year graduate students and advanced doctoral students.
Featuring seven mathematics faculty members and eight non-local alumni with doctorates or other valuable experience in math, panel discussions focused on the transition to, and completion of, graduate study. Graduate students were each paired with a math professor or alumnus for individual discussions and to talk about pertinent issues in the graduate school experience.
Lloyd Edwards ’80 gave a presentation on biostatistics careers, while senior mathematics major Brent Woolridge honored the contributions of the late John Ewell ’48, a career mathematician who passed away in 2007. The Rev. Benjamin Martin ’63, a former Morehouse mathematics professor who is now pastor of Saint Rest Baptist Church in Minden, La., gave the keynote address.
But Cooper said the main point was to let doctoral students and potential doctoral students know that there are people out there to help, encourage and support them.
“It’s a very difficult road,” Cooper said of mathematics doctoral studies. “That’s why mentoring is so important. It’s to let doctoral candidates know that there are many of us who have been there. It’s important to have people along the way to help.”
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