SUMS Conference at James Madison University October 4, 2014

Closing Speaker: Laura Taalman,
Mathematician-in-Residence at MoMath, the National Museum of Mathematics

Title: Making Mathematics Real: Knot theory, experimental mathematics, and 3D printing

Abstract:  For a pure mathematician, mathematics is a set of abstract constructs completely separated from reality, and using technology to explore mathematics can seem like, well, cheating.  But with the rise of undergraduate research in mathematics comes a need for elementary unsolved problems that students can pursue.  Modern technology can help fill this need and support exploratory, investigative mathematics, even for those of us that are old-school mathematical purists at heart.  Going a step further, the recently accessible technology of 3D printing can take abstract mathematical objects and literally make them real.

Bio: Laura Taalman is Mathematician-in-Residence at MoMath, the National Museum of Mathematics, on a temporary leave from her position as Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at James Madison University. Dr. Taalman's mathematical research interests include singular algebraic geometry, knot theory, and the mathematics of games and puzzles.  She is the founder of the JMU MakerLab mathematical 3D-printing lab and the JMU 3-SPACE general education 3D-printing classroom, and is known as mathgrrl on Thingiverse, where she has published over 150 3D models.  She is also a co-author of the recent Taalman/Kohn Calculus textbook and seven books on Sudoku and mathematics.  In 2013 she was a recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, and has received the Alder Award and the Trevor Evans Award from the Mathematical Association of America.