The STRIVE for MORE (Success Through Rewarding and Inclusive Virtual Experience for Mathematics – Opportunities in Research and Education) 2020 Conference took place over Zoom this past Saturday, September 26th hosted jointly by Virginia Tech and Clemson University. Students from all across the US participated in a variety of activities during the one-day conference. The goal of the conference was to bring together undergraduate students interested in mathematics to learn about opportunities in research and education. This virtual conference followed the first annual MORE Conference held at Virginia Tech in Fall 2019.

The conference consisted of an excellent plenary seminar by Professor Beth Malmskog (Colorado College) on “Mathematics, Context, and Fair Redistricting: How Mathematics Can Detect and Prevent Gerrymandering in Colorado and Beyond.” During her talk, participants had the opportunity to explore the mathematics and challenges behind developing fair electoral districts. The enthusiasm of the students was evident in their many proposed solutions and questions that ran us right to the time limit for the talk.

Picture of Plenary Talk Mathematics, Context and Fair Redistricting

The plenary talk was bookended by informative panel sessions: the first on careers and the second the application process. Our ‘Careers and Pathways Panel,’ involving Emma Cinatl from Amazon, Jessica Matthews from NCICS, Reginald McGee from the College of Holy Cross, and Angela Robinson from NIST, demonstrated the diverse set of career avenues open those with a degree in mathematics. Our ‘Research Experiences and Graduate School Applications Panel’, involving Anant Godbole from East Tennessee University, VT graduate (’17) Samantha Erwin from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ellen Kirkman from Wake Forest, and Seth Sullivant from NCSU, gave insight into what types of research programs, i.e. REUs and internships, were out there for undergraduates and what is helpful to include in a graduate school application. Each of the panels involved breakout sessions where participants could get their individual questions answered by the panelists. 

A highlight of the conference for many participants was the ‘Near-to-peer’ lightning discussions. During this, small groups of participants had the opportunity to engage with and ask questions to current graduate students and post docs. The lightning aspect comes the rotation of groups every 5-10 minutes so the participants were able to interface with a variety of individuals, each providing their own, unique perspective. 

A Sunday, bonus Wiki-thon was held in conjunction with  STRIVE for MORE. Participants received hands-on training on editing and creating Wikipedia articles with the goal of increasing visibility of underrepresented groups. This event empowered individuals by equipping them with new skills and providing community through a shared goal of increasing representation.  

 STRIVE for MORE was only possible as a result of the volunteer efforts of the graduate students, postdocs, speakers and panelists and by the financial support of the NSF. Co-organizers from Virginia Tech - Gretchen Matthews, Julianne ChungLauren Childs – and from Clemson University – Nicole Bannister, Lea Jenkins, Sean Sather-Wagstaff – look forward to bringing you the next event in the MORE series.

Additional information on STRIVE for MORE can be found at