STEM Scholars Blog

Weekly Reflection 7/22/16

The last full week of the program is done! I presented this week on peer review and publication as the last one to host a Wednesday ethics seminar. My slides, which can be seen here, give an overview of how peer review works as well as positive and negative aspects of peer review. On slide 7 there is a link to case studies relating to the ethics of peer review which Dr. Embree used to inspire opinions on the equity of peer review. Overall I think the presentation went well because people were having involved discussions about peer review and asked questions.

I went with Dr. Bayless and Kayleigh to see a presentation given by Taylor Strickland, a rising Junior at Agnes Scott College, on her research for Georgia Tech’s 2016 IMPACT REU. I’ve had several classes with Taylor, and I was curious to see how her research had gone this summer. Her and her partner created a poster for their work on Markov chains and RNA. I was very impressed by how practiced her and her partner seemed with their speech. They had really smooth transitions that definitely improved my understanding and helped me develop some goals for my presentation with Kayleigh. There was also a poster on meanders which I thought was really interesting. The meanders were applied to RNA folding and it was cool to see the direct link between a pure math concept and a biological application. I hope to get the chance to do more topological math when I’m in Hungary as it makes a lot of sense to me.

On  the topic of presentations, Kayleigh and I also spent time this week working on our final presentation for our fellow STEM scholars. The obstacle we have faced time and again in this talk is including just enough of the definitions and concepts. We want our audience to be able to understand us, but we still need to have time for our theorems. I ended up removing a few parts of my theorem that would take too long to explain to our audience and created simplified definitions of swiftness that did not depend on lengths and winding numbers. On the one hand this seems like a good decision to me because I can spend more time creating an intuitive understanding for my audience, but on the other my work seems much less impressive to me without all aspects of my theorem. After our presentation, which will take about 10 minutes, there will also be 10 minutes for the audience to ask us questions. I’m not sure if there will be that many questions, but hopefully people understand enough to inquire about the math. I’m somewhat worried that people will just ask about the applications of the cyclic systems, as most of the questions I’ve fielded so far have gone down that path.

Kayleigh and I finalized a draft of our paper this week as well. We finished the abstract first, and then moved on to edit what we had written in the body of the paper. A lot of the statements from the paper were removed, and almost all of the proofs from (1) are gone. A somewhat disheartening aspect of mathematical research is having to remove a proof that one spent a lot of time on because it isn’t significant enough to go in the paper. However, it is vital to have those proofs so that one can be convinced that their claims are accurate. Kayleigh and I also worked on editing the proofs that remained and moving the paper into a logical order. We finished the introduction last. When we wrote our abstract we created a bulleted list of features we wanted our introduction to have, and edited them as we wrote our paper. I would say that the motivation was the most difficult aspect of our introduction. Our motivation came mostly from a pure math perspective, but we also wanted to motivate the study of finite dynamical systems in real-world examples, which we knew less about. Now that we’ve finished a rough draft we’ve sent it to Dr. Bayless for review. The current plan is that she will read and edit it and send it to a fellow mathematician that was uninvolved in our research for his opinion. The editing process will probably continue past the end of the program, and I plan on updating this blog with significant junctures.


  1. Adamaszek, Michal, Henry Adams, and Francis Motta. “Random Cyclic Dynamical Systems.” Eprint ArXiv:1511.07832 (2015): n. pag. Web.

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