"...Online Newsletter from the Pittsburg State University College of Arts and Sciences"

Undergraduate Research in Mathematics


Jae Min Lee, Leah Childers, and Lara IsmertDr. Leah Childers, Mathematics Department, would like to "brag" on some of our mathematics students who presented their undergraduate research projects recently.

“I think our students did a really great job,” says Childers, who is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University.

She is talking about Lara Ismert and Jae Min Lee who represented Pittsburg State University and the State of Kansas at the Missouri-Arkansas-Kansas-Oklahoma (MAKO) Undergraduate Research Conference which was held at Missouri State University on November 12, 2011.

Ismert and Lee, who both worked under Childers’ supervision, presented their original research.

Lara Ismert, who is seeking bachelors degrees in math and English, gave a presentation titled “Rusty Compass Constructions” in which she described which numbers were constructible if a compass was “rusted” to a fixed opening.

“By relating geometric constructions to fields of numbers,” says Ismert, “we can determine what geometric objects cannot be constructed.”

Jae Min Lee, who graduated with a degree in mathematics in December, presented “Using Tangent Circles to Find a Practical Approach to an Ellipse and Hyperbola.” In that paper, he showed that, given two circles, the locus of the centers of circles tangent to the two given circles formed either an ellipse or a hyperbola. 

“By presenting my research at the conference,” says Lee, “I gained a deeper understanding about my topic. Feedback from attendees encouraged me to develop it further.” Growing philosophical Lee added, “The nature of mathematics is not just following the intellectual traces of past, but perpetually casting doubts on and develop them. This experience set me free from the mathematics textbook and helped me find my true passion in studying mathematics.”

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