The Young Mathematicians Conference

The Young Mathematicians Conference (YMC) is a national event held at Ohio State since 2003 dedicated to undergraduate research. The YMC is structured to provide undergraduate researchers with an authentic scientific conference experience where they can present and disseminate their results, discuss mathematics with their peers and receive recognition of their achievements. It is hard to describe the energy, passion and intellectual curiosity of the young researchers!

The conference takes place in mid-August. About 70 undergraduate students are invited to present their research in talks and poster presentations and to exchange ideas and insights amongst themselves and senior researchers. The emphasis on high mathematical level aims to guide students into challenging graduate programs in mathematics, for which the YMC experience helps provide the needed enthusiasm and momentum.

Invitations to YMC are selective; students apply by submitting the title and abstract of their research, which is evaluated by a panel of more than 20 faculty. Consequently, the average mathematical level of presentations is remarkably high, and an invitation to YMC has become a significant résumé builder for students. The abstracts of the student presentations can be found through links on the YMC schedule.

Sarah Koch (University of Michigan), YMC 2017 plenary speaker, interacting with studentsThe conference starts Friday at noon with an address made by a representative of the Ohio State leadership. In 2018, the welcome address was given by the executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, who delighted the students with her own story of being both a math and political science major, eventually deciding to pursue her PhD studies in political science. The students' talks start after that. There are three parallel sessions with time for participants to move among sessions. In the evening, it is time for the first of three plenary talks.

Each conference has three engaging plenary talks given by world-class researchers on diverse topics of high impact and innovative research of current interest. The speakers also attend the student talks and interact with the researchers. Video of the speakers’ talks over the years can be found on Plenary Speakers and About the YMC .

YMC poster presentationsFriday ends with a catered buffet, allowing participants to interact in a less formal setting. The conference continues Saturday with plenary talks, poster presentations and student speakers. The Graduate Student Orientation event Sunday is a panel of representatives from math departments at various universities who discuss PhD studies, admissions and the general life of a graduate student.

About 12 of the research mentors participate in YMC, attending student talks and giving feedback to students. They also share their experiences generating research projects, supervising students, seeking funding and providing support for new directions in undergraduate mathematics research. The Mentor's Breakfast on Sunday is an opportunity for YMC organizers to receive feedback and generate ideas.

The conference ends with a closing address delivered by the chair of the Department of Mathematics.

YMC aims to support the undergraduate research community in mathematics on the national level, serve as a focal point for undergraduate research groups and enhance the cohesion and success of the NSF/REU program and similar programs in the United States. YMC also provides professional development for its numerous volunteer reviewers. Many of them are young faculty who are inspired to undertake such activities themselves.

YMC is proud of the diversity of its participants. We actively seek students from diverse institutions ranging from large research universities to small colleges, and from geographically diverse places in the U.S. We proactively solicit and track applications from traditionally underrepresented groups. As a result, participants of these groups have truly proved themselves in a selective environment and YMC is able to attest to their exceptional ability, enabling them to begin, with great confidence, academic careers.

Article contributed by Associate Professor Rodica Costin

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