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NCCAT Hosts Regional Mathematics Conference

Around 90 people attended the seventh annual Smoky Mountain Undergraduate Research Conference on the History of Mathematics, held at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching April 26.

A keynote speaker, 10 student talks and 19 student posters highlighted the conference with participation from North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. Sponsors were: Western Carolina University Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, WCU Visiting Scholars Program, WCU Honors College and UNC at Asheville Department of Mathematics. Funding for the conference is from a National Science Foundation grant through the Mathematical Association of America Regional Undergraduate Mathematics Conferences program.

“SMURCHOM is a daylong conference especially for undergraduate students on the history of mathematics and on mathematics informed by its history,” said Sloan Despeaux, an associate professor of mathematics at WCU, who along with Greg Boudreaux of UNC-Asheville, organized the event. “Specifically, it gives undergraduates a forum in which to present and explore research in a venue that is central to both mathematics and mathematics education. A major goal of SMURCHOM is to give these students an outlet in which to present this research in the history of mathematics.”

The keynote speaker this year was Caroline Ehrhardt, an associate professor at Universite Paris 8, an internationally recognized historian of mathematics, who spoke about the life of Evariste Galois (1811-1832). Galois was a nineteenth-century mathematician whose discoveries changed the course of abstract algebra.

The majority of the student participants are pre-service teachers, because History of Mathematics is frequently a required course for mathematics education majors. SMURCHOM allows these participants to discover NCCAT, a national leader in professional development for teachers.

SMURCHOM has become such a success organizers are looking at expanding it to a two-day event for the future.

Institutions represented at SMURCHOM VII: Alamance Community College, Appalachian State University, Coastal Carolina University, Columbus State University, Francis Marion University, Georgia College and State University, Georgia Military College, High Point University, Lincolnton High School, Mars Hill University, North Carolina A&T University, South Mebane Elementary School, Southwestern Community College, Tuscola High School, University of North Carolina at Asheville, University of North Georgia, University of South Carolina Upstate, Warren Wilson College and Western Carolina University.