SIAM News Blog

A New Milestone for SIAM Student Chapters in 2021

By Susanne C. Brenner and Kathleen Kavanagh

The number of SIAM student chapters has grown steadily in recent years. 2021 was a landmark year for the program, as the number of student chapters surpassed 200. In fact, SIAM ended 2021 with a total of 208 chapters.

To mark this milestone, we hosted a series of “Meet and Greet” sessions with the help of Maggie Hohenadel, SIAM’s Student Chapter and Fellows Coordinator. Three Zoom sessions took place in the fall of last year with chapters that formed in 2021. In October, we met with faculty advisors and officers from the student chapters at California State University, Fullerton; Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; and Georgia Gwinnett College. In November, we met with representatives from student chapters at Eastern Washington University, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), and San Francisco State University. During our final meeting later in November, we connected with the chapters at Sabancı University and the University of Sheffield.

We discussed opportunities and procedures for SIAM chapters within the SIAM community at each of these meetings. We also highlighted the Visiting Lecturer Program, wherein mathematicians in industry, business, and government visit/meet with student chapters and give inspirational and informative talks on topics that are of interest to early-career individuals in the field. In addition, we showcased SIAM conferences as a means to learn about emerging topics in applied mathematics, build professional networks, and become more involved with the scientific community. In particular, we introduced the new chapter officers to Student Travel Awards and the opportunities at conference “Student Days,” including undergraduate research sessions.

During our conversations, representatives spoke about various events that their chapters have hosted and detailed their plans for the future. Many chapters had already invited speakers for seminar talks and intend to organize additional seminars and lecture series. Some participants talked about the possibility of serving as mentors for modeling contests and partaking in science fairs. Incidentally, a significant number of undergraduate student leaders comprise the new 2021 chapters, many of whom are currently training for the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications’ (COMAP) Mathematical Contest in Modeling; SIAM awards multiple prizes for the COMAP competition. We in turn pointed to the MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge, a program of SIAM, as a possible source of resources and training materials.

Several chapters also organized conferences and joint events. The University of Sheffield Student Chapter hosted an online conference last summer, and the POSTECH Student Chapter co-sponsored a joint online SIAM student chapter conference with the Peking University Student Chapter. Other chapters are currently planning to pursue regional events — and possibly even a nationwide event.

The SIAM student chapters that formed in 2021 are definitely off to an impressive start with a wide array of activities. We hope to welcome even more chapters in 2022. Furthermore, SIAM is planning to host the traditional student chapter breakfast with leadership during the 2022 Annual Meeting—which will take place both online and in Pittsburgh, Pa., in July—and intends to schedule several virtual Zoom chapter get-togethers in 2022. We look forward to these activities and hope that all chapters participate in the upcoming events.

Susanne C. Brenner is a professor of mathematics at Louisiana State University and the President of SIAM. Kathleen Kavanagh is a professor of mathematics at Clarkson University and the Vice President for Education at SIAM.

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