The Pacific Coast Undergraduate Mathematics Conference (PCUMC) has been chosen to receive the 2015 Mathematics Programs that Make a Difference Award from the American Mathematical Society (AMS). PCUMC is honored "for its significant efforts to encourage students from underrepresented groups to continue in the study of mathematics."
The annual award was created by the AMS Committee on the Profession to recognize outstanding programs that successfully address the issue of underrepresented groups in mathematics.
Allan Greenleaf of the University of Rochester, chair of the Committee on the Profession, said, "The Pacific Coast Undergraduate Mathematics Conference has been making a difference since it started in 2006. With a special emphasis on attracting women students and students from underrepresented minorities, this annual event gives undergraduates the opportunity to attend a mathematics conference that's tailored just for them. They attend and give presentations and mingle with other students who share their interest in mathematics. The PCUMC welcomes these future mathematicians into the profession."
Growing from 86 participants in its first year to over 600 this year, the PCUMC has become an annual event eagerly anticipated by students and faculty in the greater Los Angeles area. Its goal is to provide support and mentoring to undergraduate students who are the future members of the mathematical community. The conference brings the students into contact with outstanding mathematicians who serve as role models and raises awareness about career options and advanced study in the mathematical sciences.
In the friendly, supportive atmosphere of the PCUMC, students can make presentations about expository mathematics or about their own work, get to know others who share their interest in mathematics, hear high-quality lectures by senior mathematicians, and attend panel discussions about graduate school and careers. In addition, the PCUMC makes a special attempt to reach out to younger students by including freshman and sophomore talk sessions.
Held on the second Saturday of March, PCUMC rotates around institutions in the greater Los Angeles area and has been held at Occidental College, Loyola Marymount University, Pepperdine University, UC Riverside, Cal Poly Pomona, and California Lutheran University. Since its inception, the PCUMC has attracted over 2,400 participants and featured almost 400 student speakers representing 123 different institutions.
The conference puts special emphasis on bringing in women students and students who are members of underrepresented minorities. Close to 1,000 PCUMC participants have been women, 582 have been Latino/a or Hispanic, and 82 have been black or African American. PCUMC has developed strong ties with Hispanic-serving institutions and community colleges in southern California. Many of the students who attend PCUMC undergo a profound change in outlook---they really view themselves as part of the mathematical community.
Also receiving this year's Mathematics Programs that Make a Difference Award is the Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics at Brigham Young University.
The official announcement of the award to PCUMC, including the selection committee's citation appears in the May 2015 issue of the Notices of the AMS at
Find out more about this and other AMS awards on the web at
Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, today the American Mathematical Society of international membership fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and to everyday life.