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2019 Field of Dreams Conference Review

Conference was Hosted By:

The Department of Economics and The Department Mathematics and Statistics at Washington University in St. Louis

WashU logo

Conference Information

Conference Poster (PDF)

Final Conference Agenda (PDF)

Dates: November 15-17, 2019

Location: Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel, St. Louis, MO


Graduate Fair webpage with flyers


Conference Presentations

David Hummels (PDF)

Roselyn Williams (PDF)

Conference Review:

We are pleased to report another successful Field of Dreams Conference! The 2019 Field of Dreams Conference was once again held, at the Renaissance Airport Hotel, in St. Louis, Missouri. While many elements of our previous conferences remained in place, there were several new events and many exciting sessions.  Over 360 participants, including 154 Predoctoral Scholars, 45 PhD students, 152 faculty, and many other representatives, were in attendance from over 140 universities, colleges, and organizations nationwide. Over 50 of our F-GAP students were hosted on campus at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) for Friday morning.

At the hotel, we had opening remarks, and then separate panels for undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty: The undergraduate students concentrated on maximizing opportunities, the panel for graduate students discussed how to prepare for one’s first professional position, and faculty discussed the best practices for mentoring doctoral students.  For the second half of the morning students heard about career options in government and industry, while faculty attended a panel where many of the Mathematical Sciences Professional Organizations presented brief introductions to their missions.  The afternoon started with our annual Fields of Success panel, where Alliance Scholars who have earned their doctorate tell their stories.  It is always a wonderful moment to hear these doctoral recipients describe their experiences, and to see the students in the audience connect with them.  We were treated to a Connections Lecture, given by Prof. S. James Gates, of Brown University, entitled “From SyFy and Marvel Comics to Superstring Theory, Evolution, and the CMB”, which touched on a wide variety of topics and Professor Gates discussed his connection to these themes. There was then a panel for students on the value of an REU experience, followed by the REU Fair, where students could learn about specific opportunities, and then a Career Fair, where several Alliance Scholar doctorates met potential employers. Then we had a poster session for finishing graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.  This year we awarded prizes to the best graduate student posters and the best postdoctoral research poster. The winners were Lilian Antunes and Ruby Bayliss (for graduate student posters) and Immanuel Williams (postdoctoral presentation).  One exciting new activity was a follow up panel to our summer workshop held at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA).  This workshop exposed a large group of our F-GAP students to possible areas of study outside of pure mathematics.  It was great to hear how the workshop had impacted the individual students, and how the experience had helped them form their own community! At Friday’s dinner we recognized the 35 Alliance Predoctoral Scholars who either earned their degree since the last Field of Dreams Conference, or we had learned about it since then. An evening panel exposed students to available funding opportunities.

Saturday morning, we had our annual Math Sciences Lecture, delivered by Prof. David Hummels, Dean of the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, with the title “Make Great Money, Change the World:  PhD Studies in Management and Economics.” This talk showed students (and faculty) a wide range of possible avenues of study in the fields of economics and quantitative finance. The rest of the morning and early afternoon were taken up with a wide variety of panels, such as “Paths to the doctorate”, Mentoring at the Predoctoral Level”, “How do you know when you know math, and “How to recruit Alliance students”. We set aside a full hour for the whole community to engage in a panel on “Me Too STEM”, which touched on many difficult and important issues in our profession. Students then held their closed session, entitled “The Doctoral Experience”, while faculty from various regional alliances met to discuss their activities. Saturday afternoon concluded with the annual Graduate Fair, with 68 tables featuring graduate programs looking to recruit Math Alliance scholars. Our student activities were capped by the Saturday night banquet. This gave us a chance to recognize our retiring Executive Council members – Donald Cole, Philip Kutzko, Helena Noronha, and William Vélez, -- and to welcome our new Council members – Terrence Blackman, Pamela Harris, Jaqueline Hughes Oliver, Kyndra Middleton, and Roberto Soto. We also made the exciting announcement that the 2020 Field of Dreams Conference will be held November 6-8, in Minneapolis, MN, and we are co-organizing with our friends at the IMA. The keynote address was delivered Prof. Roselynn Williams of Florida A&M University on the subject of “Bridging the Gaps in Undergraduate Mathematics Education”.

Sunday morning, the faculty held their annual meeting to discuss the state and direction of the Alliance, and there were many ideas regarding ways we can further improve our conference and ways we can have even better outcomes for students.

The conference leaves us feeling renewed in our commitment to our goals and we will be working to create an even more successful conference next year. We have appointed an Agenda Committee for the first time, and they are well into their work of reviewing the past and mapping out the 2020 Field of Dreams Conference. For the second year, we had a videographer, Joshua Edmunds, documenting a great deal of the conference, and we hope to have videos posted to our YouTube Channel soon!! We will let you know when they go up. We are looking forward to next year’s conference (November 6-8, Minneapolis, MN) and hope you’ll all be joining us there!

We would like to thank everyone who helped prior and during the conference. We would like to thank all our Center Partners, Members, and sponsors for making this conference a great success!! Check out our Flickr site for photos from this years’ and past years’ Field of Dreams Conferences. If you’d like to share your stories or photos from the conference send them to