By Doris Voina & Nora Gilbertson
The third edition of Women in Applied Mathematics Mentorship Program (WAMM) was organized in the Spring of 2020, this time entirely online. WAMM is a mentorship program run by the Diversity Committee, with the help of PhD students who serve as mentors for undergraduates. PhD students are paired with undergraduates and work on a project during the course of the quarter, culminating with a presentation at the end where mentees are able to present their work and receive feed-back. Projects commonly involve a combination of reading texts or papers to learn new mathematical ideas, theoretical work, and numerical simulations using a programming language of choice. Participants are encouraged to discuss with their mentors topics such as potential career paths, the graduate school application process, and what graduate school is actually like. The aim is to encourage women in Mathematics and increase their participation by providing mentorship, community, and exposure to math outside the classroom. This year, the funding to host this program was provided by the UW Resilience Lab.
This year was once again competitive, with 22 applicants for only 8 spots. The undergraduates admitted were sophomores, juniors and seniors from departments like Computer Science, Mathematics, ACMS, and Music. The projects they tackled spanned fields like data science, machine learning, cryptography, computational knitting, and finance.
Moving everything online made connecting with students a little more difficult. Although all participants missed the face to face interactions, the program was able to run successfully over Zoom. Highlights from mentors: “I really enjoyed working on the project with my mentee. It was a topic that I definitely wouldn't choose on my own, and I appreciated the broadening of my horizons,” and, “Getting to watch her grow in confidence and feel that she was asking the 'right' questions and learning how research worked/what it might look like to be a graduate student was very rewarding.”
Highlights from mentees: “This program is amazing, not only do you learn in-depth information about whatever field you wanted to study, you can also gain so much insight into how graduate school works, what the PhD process looks like, and how to research effectively. I learned so many skills as I worked on my project and has really sparked an interest of research in me,” and, “I've really enjoyed my meeting with my mentor, she's always provided a lot of clarity and insight for the complex concepts I was learning.”