Pantula, who successfully lobbied to bring the IPC to Oregon State this year, also helped host the 2007 IPC at North Carolina State University when he was chair of its statistics department. IPC 2015 presents a unique opportunity to female students in mathematics and statistics at OSU.
“There is a remarkable enthusiasm about the Infinite Possibilities Conference among the OSU students I know who attended the conference. It is rewarding to contribute to the organization of a conference driven by such enthusiasm,” says Mina Ossiander, mathematics professor and co-chair of the local IPC organizing committee with Lan Xue, a statistics professor.
Numerous studies have shown that a lack of peers, professors and role models who look like them discourage minorities from enrolling in mathematics and science programs. In order to give opportunities to learn from role models and encourage networking, the IPC brought together undergraduates, graduates and high school students as well as an impressive cohort of high-achieving women of color statisticians and mathematicians working across the country in academia, industry and top-level scientific bodies.
You never see anything quite like it. In general, because women of color are under-represented in mathematical fields, until everyone comes together, we may not even know we are there for each other,” says Lily Khadjavi, mathematics professor at Loyola Marymount University and a member of the IPC Advisory Board. “For students—frankly for everyone, at every stage of one’s career—a lack of mentors and role models can be a particular issue.”
IPC 2015 offered a short course on biostatistics for conference participants on March 1. The conference included a rich mix of research talks on mathematics, professional development workshops and panels on race/gender in the context of mathematics. IPC aims to spark interest among high school students in careers in the mathematical sciences as well as instill greater awareness in undergraduate and graduate students about issues uniquely faced by women of color in STEM disciplines.