Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics

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Two presenters in 2020

23rd Annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics | January 22-24, 2021

Registration has closed for the 23rd Annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics (NCUWM), which will be held online January 22-24, 2021. The shift to an online format for the 2021 conference will enable significantly more students to participate than was possible at previous conferences. Students interested in presenting a talk or a poster and their co-authors who will attend the conference must apply by November 15, 2020. Others who will attend must register by December 1, 2020. Please note that after November 15, the registration fee increases from $10 to $20.

Women, and particularly women of color, are underrepresented in the mathematical sciences, especially among jobs that require graduate education. We at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) recognize the need to encourage and mentor undergraduate women in mathematics to pursue graduate study in mathematics and to seek mathematical careers. We do this by annually hosting the NCUWM, made possible with generous support from the National Science Foundation, for undergraduates that provides role models, insider knowledge, opportunities to present undergraduate research, and a growing community of peers interested in issues related to creating a supportive environment for women in mathematics.

The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and/or political affiliation in its programs, activities, or employment. The NCUWM is open to all undergraduate students age 19 or older and their faculty advisors. For complete rules and procedures related to registration see the Application, Selection and Policies section below.

Although we do not regard this conference as an appropriate venue for faculty representatives to recruit applicants for their graduate programs, we would like to encourage departments to contact us about sponsoring women graduate students from their programs at the conference.

Our History

As the UNL department looked back on the 1980s, it recognized that 23 men had earned their Ph.D. but not a single woman had earned a Ph.D. during the decade. The department made a commitment to create a supportive and welcoming environment for women to study mathematics. By 1998, the department received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring because of its success in mentoring women graduate students to the Ph.D. To celebrate the award and continue its efforts to create a supportive environment for women in mathematics, the department hosted its first Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics in early 1999. It is important to note that by paying attention to issues that support women in mathematics, the UNL graduate program in mathematics became a more successful program for all students, regardless of gender. For example, in the decade of the 2010s, 45 women and 68 men earned their Ph.D. in mathematics.

Plenary Speakers

Dr. Cecilia Aragon

Dr. Cecilia Aragon

Cecilia Aragon is Director of the Human Centered Data Science Lab, Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, Founding Co-Director of the University of Washington Data Science Master’s Program, and Senior Data Science Fellow at the eScience Institute at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. In 2016, Aragon was the first Latina to be named to the rank of Full Professor in the College of Engineering at UW in its hundred-year history. She earned her Ph.D. in computer science from UC Berkeley in 2004, and her B.S. in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on human-centered data science, an emerging field at the intersection of human-computer interaction (HCI), computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), and the statistical and computational techniques of data science. She has authored or co-authored over 130 peer-reviewed publications and over 140 other publications in the areas of HCI, CSCW, data science, visual analytics, machine learning, and astrophysics. Her most recent book, the memoir FLYING FREE: My Victory over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the US Aerobatic Team, was released by Blackstone Publishing in September 2020. Previously, she and Katie Davis co-authored the book Writers in the Secret Garden: Fanfiction, Youth, and New Forms of Mentoring (MIT Press 2019).

In 2008, she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the US government on outstanding scientists in the early stages of their careers, for her work in collaborative data-intensive science. Aragon's research has been recognized with over $27 million in grants from federal agencies, private foundations, and industry, and has garnered six Best Paper awards since 2004. Her interdisciplinary background includes over 15 years of software development experience in industry and NASA, and a three-year stint as the founder and CEO of a small company. She has also been a test pilot, aerobatic champion, and medalist at the World Aerobatic Championships, the Olympics of aviation.

Dr. Ruth Haas

Dr. Ruth Haas

Ruth Haas is the President of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM). She is a Professor and Graduate Chair of Mathematics at the University of Hawaii, Mānoa. She is also Achilles Professor Emerita in Mathematics and Statistics at Smith College, where she co-founded and co-directed the Center for Women in Mathematics, which received the 2011 AMS Programs that Make a Difference Award for its Post-baccalaureate program. Haas was the 2015 recipient of the AWM Humphries Award for Mentoring undergraduate women to continue to Ph.Ds. in the mathematical sciences. She earned her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College and Ph.D. at Cornell University. She has more than 30 publications in areas of discrete mathematics, including both algebraic combinatorics and graph theory. Many of her work is joint with teams of student or junior women researchers.

Talitha Washington

Dr. Talitha Washington

Dr. Washington is the inaugural Director of the Atlanta University Center Data Science Initiative. This new initiative seeks to provide data-driven solutions to current and emerging societal problems, especially as it pertains to the African American community. Poised to bring new diverse perspectives to data science, Dr. Washington is a Professor of Mathematics at Clark Atlanta University, and is an affiliate faculty at Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College. Dr. Washington is a former Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the Convergence Accelerator. Previously, as a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education, she was instrumental in building and establishing NSF's first Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program which funded $40,000,000 in awards in FY19. Her research interests include the applications of differential equations to problems in biology and engineering, as well as the development of nonstandard finite difference schemes to numerically solve dynamical systems. She was elected to honor societies Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, and mathematics honor societies Kappa Mu Epsilon and Pi Mu Epsilon. She is the recipient of the 2019 BEYA STEM Innovator Award, MAA's 2018 Leitzel Lecturer, an ASI Fellow, and featured by NSF as a Woman History Maker. In 2019, she received the distinguished Outstanding Faculty Award from Howard University. In 2020, she received the NSF Director's Award for Superior Accomplishment. Dr. Washington completed her undergraduate studies in mathematics at Spelman College and studied abroad at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, Mexico. She earned her master's and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of Connecticut. She was a VIGRE Research Associate in the Department of Mathematics at Duke University. She held assistant professorships at The College of New Rochelle and the University of Evansville, an associate professorship at Howard University, and most recently, a full professorship at Clark Atlanta University.

Invited Guests

Dr. Tomek Bartoszynski Program Director National Science Foundation

Dr. Karoline Pershell Chief Operating Officer Service Robotics and Technologies

Ms. Julia Read-LaBelle Global Supply and Inventory Analyst Nike, Inc.

Ms. Kimberly Shurupoff Mathematics Hiring Director National Security Agency

Dr. Shanise Walker Assistant Professor of Mathematics University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Dr. Laura WhiteAerospace Engineer NASA Langley Research Center

Dr. Martha Yip Assistant Professor of Mathematics University of Kentucky

Application, Selection and Policies

We thank you for your interest in attending NCUWM. Students interested in presenting (a talk or a poster) at the 2021 conference must complete an application between October 1 and November 15, 2020. Students who are listed in applications as co-authors must complete an application by Nov. 15 if they are interested in attending the 2021 conference. Students and faculty who will attend as non-presenters must register by Dec. 1, 2020, but the fee increases after Nov. 15.

Registration fees: Early-bird rate is $10 per person and must be paid by presenters once they are notified of acceptance and by Dec. 1. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 15, 2020, to qualify for the early-bird rate. The registration fee after Nov. 15 is $20 per person. No refunds will be given for any registration fees. Selection of participants will be done according to the following policies:

  1. Attendees must be at least 19 years of age at the time of the conference.
  2. Each home institution will be tentatively limited to a maximum of six student participants and two faculty participants. We may be able to accommodate additional registrations. Registration will be closed down once we reach 750 completed undergraduate registrations, and 250 completed faculty registrations, or by December 1, 2020, whichever is first. Please email us at if you would like your institution to be considered for additional registrations.
  3. Each home institution will be limited to a maximum of four presenters.
  4. Abstracts will be read by the organizing committee, which will select 48 for talks and as many for posters as can be accommodated. Preference will be given to original research, loosely defined as work that includes some mathematical results obtained by the student, possibly with collaborators. Applicants whose abstracts are selected for either a talk or a poster are presenters; all other student applicants are non-presenters.
  5. Selection of abstracts will be done primarily on merit, except that each home institution will be limited to a maximum of three talks and a total of four presenters.
  6. Students chosen as presenters will be accepted to the conference, provided they complete their registration by Nov. 15 and pay the early-bird registration fee by Dec. 1.

All presenters should anticipate being notified of their status by the end of November.

These policies were crafted to fit a wide range of institutional situations, but nobody can anticipate all possibilities. If you believe that your situation is sufficiently unusual that it warrants special consideration, please have your faculty advisor contact Alex Zupan, NCUWM Co-Chair, at

Statement of Appropriate Conduct at NCUWM

To provide all participants – undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, speakers, panelists, staff, and volunteers – the opportunity to benefit from the event, NCUWM is committed to providing a harassment-free environment for everyone, regardless of gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, ethnicity, religion, or other group identity.

NCUWM seeks to provide an opportunity for diverse participants to learn, network, and enjoy the company of colleagues in an environment of mutual human respect. We recognize a shared responsibility to create and hold that environment for the benefit of all. Some behaviors are, therefore, specifically prohibited:

  • Harassment or intimidation based on race, religion, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, appearance, or other group status.
  • Sexual harassment or intimidation, including unwelcome sexual attention, stalking (physical or virtual), or unsolicited physical contact.
  • Yelling at or threatening speakers (verbally or physically or virtually).

All participants are expected to observe these rules and behaviors in all conference venues, including online meeting rooms and social events. Participants asked to stop a hostile or harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Videos and screen shares must be harassment-free at all times. Conference participants seek to learn, network, and have fun. Please do so responsibly and with respect for the right of others to do likewise.

Please contact designated NCUWM staff (identified during the conference), or any member of the organizing committee whom you are comfortable with, if you believe you have been harassed or that a harassment problem exists. Any such reports will be investigated immediately and appropriate actions taken, but only if desired by the person who was harassed. Reports will ultimately be directed to the Title IX Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which will determine and carry out the appropriate course of action, and may consult with and engage other UNL staff, leaders and legal counsel as appropriate.

Learn more about how NCUWM can benefit you:


National Science Foundation logo

NCUWM is generously supported by the National Science Foundation; the National Security Agency; the UNL Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education; and the UNL Department of Mathematics. We thank the NSF and NSA for their funding support over the past two decades. We also want to acknowledge the institutions that provide travel and registration support to their students who attend, which in turn allows us to utilize our NSF support for travel to additional attendees.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Contact Info

Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics
UNL Department of Mathematics
203 Avery Hall
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0130
Phone: 402.472.9312
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