UO Women in Mathematics chapter wins excellence award

Woman doing math on blackboard

The University of Oregon’s Association for Women in Mathematics has won the organization’s Scientific Excellence Award for its speaker series and undergraduate reading program.

The Association for Women in Mathematics, also known as AWM, has more than 100 student-run chapters on campuses around the world, according to a press release from the association. Four awards are given each year for scientific excellence, professional development, fundraising and sustainability, and community outreach.

“Our community consists of mostly math graduate students, both male and female, who are invested in bettering the mathematical community and specifically in fulfilling our mission statement,” said Christy Hazel, graduate student and club president.

The UO chapter’s mission statement calls for increasing the visibility of women within the greater UO community and supporting other underrepresented groups participating in mathematical sciences.

Other winners from this year include Purdue University, Florida Atlantic University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Many speakers visit the UO throughout the year. However, the speaker series put on by the chapter brings three distinguished mathematicians to campus to engage with students for several days.

The series is organized by a speaker series committee, and according to former chair Sarah Frei, the committee’s time and energy is part of what makes the series possible.

“It is validating to have those efforts recognized and to know that our work is regarded as an outstanding example of what student AWM chapters can be doing,” Frei said. “Seeing women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) who are distinguished in their field can help all undergraduate women who may be struggling to see their gender identity represented in the field in which they hope to work.”

The chapter also created an undergraduate reading program that connects undergraduate students with graduate students to cover a wide range of mathematical topics. According to the press release, the reading program as well as the speaker series are the main reasons for the chapter’s award reception.

In addition to the speaker series and the reading program, the chapter also has started a library of books on professional women.

But according to Hazel, the UO chapter does much more. The chapter hosts various lunches with visiting mathematicians, organizes social events for community members and holds activities for young girls to interact with math.

“Being nationally recognized is great for our chapter,” Hazel said. “Hopefully this recognition will encourage more people to join and/or support our chapter so that we can continue putting on these great events!”

Hazel says the events would not be possible without the hard work of graduate students within the chapter.

“Most people know we teach math courses, but teaching is actually just one small part of our job,” Hazel said. “There is also a large group of us who are motivated to improve the mathematical community through service work. The majority of graduate student service work is done through our chapter.”

Shortly after national recognition from the AWM, the UO chapter received another award from the Summer Math Foundation. The award comes with a $500 grant to advance women’s scholarships, Hazel said.

The club has one general meeting at the start of each term and four committees that meet and plan events as needed.

To learn more about the chapter or upcoming events, visit its website. To read about the award, see “AWM Student Chapter Award.”

—By Bryan Dorn, University Communications