Our Experience Talking to Undergraduates at the Field of Dreams Conference

By Kimberly Kaufeld and Daniel Taylor-Rodriguez, both postdoctoral fellows at SAMSI this year.

Kimberly Kaufeld at the podium

SAMSI postdoc Kimberly Kaufeld speaking at the Field of Dreams Conference in Arizona

A few weeks ago, Daniel and I had the pleasure of presenting and attending the Field of Dreams conference in Phoenix, AZ. The conference is supported by the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences and is for underrepresented undergraduate students in the mathematical sciences. The conference hosted workshops on how to network at conferences, interview for graduate school, and talk to schools and institutes such as SAMSI that offer workshops on various topics in the field.

Daniel Taylor-Rodriguez at the podium

SAMSI postdoc Daniel Taylor-Rodriguez presenting at the Field of Dreams Conference.

Daniel and I had the opportunity to present our research along with other postdocs from institutes in the mathematical sciences at the conference.  It was a great way to exhibit how different examples of research in the mathematical and statistical fields of ecology, cancer research, topology, and structures tie together in the sciences. It also a way to demonstrate what types of work one can do and communicate to undergraduates the exciting opportunities there are in mathematical and statistical research.

crowd shot of the students at the conference

Students listen to the speakers intently.

One of the things that impressed me was the excitement and drive of the undergraduates attending this conference. At our SAMSI table in the evening, Daniel and I were able to talk to undergraduates about the undergraduate workshops SAMSI offers each year, which many were excited to hear about. The juniors and seniors asked insightful questions about SAMSI and what led Daniel and I to the field of statistics. It was also when we got the chance to hear his/her background, what their goals are, and what they want to do in the future. It was impressive to hear what they had to say. Some of the undergraduates already narrowed down to the exact field they wanted to go into as they already starting projects related to neuroscience, statistical ecology or biostatistics. The conference opened the undergraduates’ eyes to the possibility that they can succeed if they put themselves out there. They made the right first step, attending the field of dreams to network and create opportunities for themselves.  They will one day make up the field and I was fortunate enough to talk to them. I hope that I am able to attend more in the future.



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