AWM 2021 Student Chapter Awards

AWM sponsored its annual Student Chapter Awards, with awards given in four categories: community outreach, fundraising/sustainability, professional development, and scientific excellence. We thank all who participated in this year’s competition for the attention to their proposals and congratulate them on the strength of the activities they are pursuing to create productive environments for women in mathematics. Mathfest was held virtually this year, so the chapter winners were recognized at the annual Student Chapters Virtual Meeting in Fall 2021.

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Winner of the Community Outreach Category

The AWM Student Chapter at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania is receiving this award for its outstanding engagement with the local and mathematics community. Since 2017, the chapter has organized an annual High School Mathematics Day for Girls in January. Each year, the event attracts 50-80 middle and high school girls interested in STEM fields and includes lectures, breakout sessions, panels, and a group mathematics-related activity. The chapter has recently taken an active role in advocating for women in male-dominated fields, through its collaborations with other organizations, and participation in events such as Women’s Empowerment Day for students, faculty and staff, and the Beyond Pink-Collar Jobs which focused on women preparing to enter men-dominated fields. Most notably, the chapter hosted the AWM Virtual Lecture Series, featuring women speakers holding academic or industrial positions who spoke on such topics as abstract algebra, financial mathematics, and epidemiology. These 14 lectures were made widely available outside of the institution and had a lasting impact in connecting people in a larger mathematics community and fostering collaborative opportunities.

Rutgers University
Winner of the Fundraising/Sustainability Category

The Rutgers University AWM Student Chapter is honored in this category for their success in increasing their membership numbers, for their collaboration with other campus groups, and for the diversity of events hosted throughout the year. To grow their membership – particularly among undergraduates – the chapter contacted every undergraduate class instructor with AWM information and made (virtual) recruiting visits to over ten classes. As a result, the chapter doubled its membership. The chapter partnered with the Rutgers Math Club on an REU panel discussion and an REU application workshop; and with Rutgers Math Discord to host a panel discussion on gender in mathematics (featuring six outside speakers) for Women’s History Month. In addition to these achievements, the chapter engaged in a diversity of innovative activities throughout the year: weekly lunches, a game night, a screening of the documentary Secrets of the Surface: The Mathematical Vision of Maryam Mirzakhani; and a panel discussion featuring mathematicians with non-traditional careers. Especially impressive was the idea to have a biweekly book club featuring Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil. The chapter was able to design and run many of these events without requiring funding; but they were also successful in securing funding from the Rutgers Graduate Student Association, the Rutgers Mathematics Department, and pledges from mathematics faculty. The chapter is congratulated for this outstanding work reflecting the AWM mission that will sustain and grow their chapter going forward.

University of California, San Diego
Winner of the Professional Development Category

The AWM Student Chapter at University of California, San Diego is receiving this award in recognition of the success of its program to develop students’ professional involvement in mathematics. In the past two years, the chapter has grown to approximately 70 members with an expanded organizational structure of officers to facilitate the needs of its growing community. The chapter had a robust mentorship program that paired graduate students with postdocs or faculty mentors and paired postdocs with faculty mentors, and vibrant professional development events for undergraduate students. Their innovative “Speed Friending” events provided great recruiting and community bonding experiences for the participants. Moreover, the chapter hosted numerous events such as their weekly virtual teas, biweekly colloquia highlighting the research and success of women mathematicians, lunch discussions on topics such as effective allyship and inclusive teaching, and woman-to-woman social events. We applaud the chapter’s commitment and continuous effort in bringing the members together, building a stronger community, and providing them a wide range of professional opportunities in mathematics and related fields.

Virginia Tech
Winner of the Scientific Excellence Category

The AWM Student Chapter at Virginia Tech is receiving this award for three scientific programs organized in 2020-2021. These programs were designed to encourage women and individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in mathematical sciences, to expose students to various research areas, and to provide students with mentorship and role models. The first of these events, titled AWM Research Days, included eight lectures (one in Fall 2020 for First Year Students and seven in Spring 2021) by members of the campus community including faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students. Topics were wide-ranging, including research done by undergraduates, research in mathematics education, infectious disease modeling, data science, and group theory. The AWM 50th Anniversary Celebration happened over two days. Four women faculty members were each invited to give a 1-hour talk aimed at undergraduate students and focusing on the mathematical sciences. An additional highlight of the year was the research seminar with Dr. Loni Philip Tabb on “Exploring the Geography of Health in the US.” The seminar was jointly hosted with Supporting Women in Mathematics through Mentoring (SWIMM) and Speakers and Undergraduate Research Engagement (SURE) and was followed by a less formal fireside chat with students. We congratulate the AWM Student Chapter at Virginia Tech for their excellent example of how to sustain scientific excellence, even during a pandemic.