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The Impact of Undergraduate Research Presented at Conference

Wesley College Professor of Mathematics, Dr. Derald Wentzien, attended and presented research at the annual Southeast Decision Sciences Institute Conference in Charleston, South Carolina. At the conference, Dr. Wentzien shared the results of undergraduate research conducted by Kasey Thompson ’14, a recent Wesley College graduate and current eighth-grade math teacher at Woodbridge Middle School.

Thompson’s research involved the use of calculus to estimate the volume of asteroids from published photographs. Although Thompson was unable to attend the conference, she shared her views on undergraduate research. “The research influenced my career choice, and helped prove wrong the bias that women are not capable of succeeding in the subject of mathematics,” said Thompson. “Regardless of background, there are numerous opportunities available to students, including research.” Thompson currently uses her experiences to motivate her students and help them realize the real-world applications of mathematics.

Thompson’s research was supported by several grants including a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Training Grant NNX15AI19H (DESGC), a National Science Foundation – Department of Undergraduate Education – Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (NSF DUE S-STEM) grant 1355554 (Cannon Scholar program) and a National Science Foundation (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Grant No. IIA-1301765 (DE-EPSCoR RII-3). The NSF EPSCoR grant also supported Dr. Wentzien’s travel to the conference.