Midwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium

The 15th annual Midwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium (MUMS) will be held on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at Simpson College. The conference will feature contributed talks and poster presentations by undergraduates.  Our plenary speaker will be Lori Ziegelmeier from Macalester College.


  • Promote student engagement in the mathematical sciences, including projects and research (completed individually or in groups).
  • Provide students the opportunity to share and celebrate the work they have completed in the mathematical sciences.
  • Introduce students to topics and applications of mathematics that are new to them.
  • Inform students about research programs and study abroad opportunities in the mathematical sciences.
  • Inform students about career and graduate school opportunities in the mathematical sciences.


All events in Kent Campus Center, Indianola Campus
8:30AM Registration (Upper Atrium); Poster session set-up (Black Box)
9:00AM Plenary talk by Lori Ziegelmeier (Hubbell II)
10:00AM Coffee break
10:15AM Student talks (Hubbell II)
11:15AM Career panel (Hubbell II)
12:15PM Lunch
1:35PM Student Talks (Hubbell II)
2:15PM Poster Session (Black Box)
3:00PM Student talks (Hubbell II)
3:40PM Closing remarks (Hubbell II)

Plenary Talk

Measuring the Shape of Data with Topology

9-10AM, Saturday, April 7

Data of various kinds is being collected at an enormous rate, and in many different forms. Often, the data are equipped with a notion of distance that reflects similarity in some sense. Using this distance measure, certain topological features--e.g. the number of connected components, loops, and trapped volumes--can be ascertained and can provide insight into the structure of these complex data sets. In this talk, I will introduce topology and a fundamental tool of topological data analysis, persistent homology. Then, we will consider examples of using this tool in two research projects by Macalester students (1) exploring the relationship between country development and geography and (2) analyzing the collective behavior of pea aphids.

Lori Ziegelmeier's Biography:

Lori Ziegelmeier is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science at Macalester College. She started her college education at Colby Community College, and then transferred to Colorado State University where she double-majored in Mathematics and Liberal Arts, with an art and history minor. She continued her graduate studies at Colorado State, completing a Master's degree and a PhD in Mathematics. Her research is in the area of geometric and topological data analysis, an area at the intersection of geometry, topology, machine learning, data science, linear algebra, optimization, and computing. She develops and applies data techniques and algorithms to uncover the structure of a wide variety of data sets including biological aggregations, hyperspectral images, and weather data.


The registration deadline has been extended to March 30!

There is no registration fee, but we do request that you register in advance by March 30.

Call for Presentations

Undergraduate students are invited and encouraged to make presentations in any mathematics-related field. Possible topics for talks and posters include, but are not limited to:

  • results of class projects;
  • solutions to contest problems (Putnam Exam, modeling competitions, etc.);
  • results from undergraduate research projects (summer programs, capstone courses, etc.);
  • expository talks on interesting topics in mathematics;
  • papers on the history of mathematics;
  • mathematics education projects; and
  • independent work in mathematics, statistics, computer science, or related disciplines.

Abstract Submission

Abstracts are due by Friday, March 23, 2018.  Abstract submissions must include the following information:

  • names of all presenters and their schools;
  • title of the presentation;
  • brief abstract (one paragraph);
  • your preference for a talk or poster presentation; and
  • faculty sponsor(s).

We have a limited number of time slots available for student talks, but a larger capacity for poster presentations.  Please submit your title and abstract by filling out our registration form (link above).  To see abstracts from previous years, click on "MUMS 2017 Abstracts," "MUMS 2015 Abstracts," and "MUMS 2014 Abstracts" below. If you have any questions, contact Dr. Katherine Vance or Dr. Heidi Berger.