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IMA Partnership with the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences

The IMA is excited to announce its partnership with the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences. The Math Alliance supports underrepresented students in their pursuit of graduate degrees in the mathematical sciences. Its “Facilitated Graduate Applications Process” (F-GAP) pairs undergraduates with faculty mentors who advise on the process of applying and matriculating to graduate school.

This June we are piloting a two-day workshop in partnership with the Math Alliance for junior-year F-GAP enrollees and their mentors. Inspired in part by a 2015 IMA workshop on Careers in Mathematical Sciences for Underrepresented Groups, the workshop will inform students about career opportunities open to those with a mathematics PhD, explore some of the mathematics used in various applications, and demystify aspects of the graduate application process. We’ve planned engaging activities to get students talking and learning, including sessions on improvisation and communicating mathematics by Joy Dolo, a Minneapolis-based actor,  and a hands-on activity featuring cloud-based data apps with Alicia Johnson, a faculty member at Macalester College, in which students will explore statistics and machine-learning.

Parallel sessions for mentors will provide information and training on resources, timelines, and the opportunities and challenges of mentoring majority or minority students. Panel discussions, along with plenary talks from mathematicians in four different sectors of employment, will serve to inform and inspire the more than 80 attendees.

The IMA’s experience with similar events demonstrates the potential impact of a workshop like this. Surveyed participants reported significant gains in their understanding of the value of a PhD in the mathematical sciences, in their professional networking skills, and in their awareness of professional opportunities for mathematicians. And seven in ten respondents said that the workshop either exceeded or far exceeded their expectations. We hope to make this workshop a regular feature of the IMA calendar.

The Math Alliance is the perfect partner for the IMA in this endeavor. Between 2009 and 2019, membership in the Alliance has grown almost tenfold; in 2017, 30% of minority PhDs in mathematical sciences were members. In fall 2018, the University of Minnesota became one of four Alliance “Center Partners,” along with host Purdue University, founding partner University of Iowa, and Washington University.