The student seminar provides an excellent opportunity for Wellesley College students to present mathematical research and different topics to both their peers and faculty.

Presentations are usually substantial, typically lasting about fifty minutes from 12:30 to 1:20. Speakers develop both public speaking and researching skills through their participation. Talks are delivered by students in all years, from first or second year students who are eager to learn about a new subject and tell others about it to students who participated in summer research programs and are reporting on their fundings.  One seminar in the fall is usually dedicated to a panel on summer research programs.

Students who are interested in speaking should be on the lookout for an email from the student seminar coordinator.  Typically a call for presenters is sent out to the departmental email list at the beginnings of the spring and fall semesters.  If you are not on the departmental email list, you can contact Melanie Chamberlin to find out who is coordinating the student seminar (or you can sign up for the Math Department Google group so you can stay up-to-date on departmental events).

Schedule for fall 2016

Students who are giving talks in the student seminar are asked to complete this sheet to help them prepare for their talk.  

Sept 12 Prof. Jonathan Tannenhauser The Man with Three Wives
Sept 19    
Sept 26    
Oct 3    
Oct 17    
Oct 24    
Oct 31 Colleen Larkin TBA
Nov 7    
Nov 14 Various students Panel on summer math opportunities
Nov 21?    
Nov 28 Narih Lee TBA
Dec 5    

Interested in Speaking in the Student Seminar?

Any student interested in lecturing may seek faculty advice on finding a topic appropriate for her; a list of possible student talks is also available here. A PLTC public speaking tutor will be able to help in preparation. To see the seminars presented in the past, please click here. This website offers tips on giving a good presentation, as well as this document. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions are also available.

Need help finding a good presentation topic?

The key to a good presentation topic is finding a piece of mathematics that you find intriguing but would like to know more about. Then, you will have fun doing the background research for the talk and your enthusiasm for the topic will help you give a good talk. Here are some suggestions for finding a good topic:

  1. Has there been any math topic in class or at an internship or job that you wanted to learn more about? If so, google around about that topic for more information and ask your talk advisor for advice.
  2. Check out to peruse some fun math facts, and see if any catch your fancy.
  3. Another great place to look are the magazines Math Horizons and The College Mathematics Journal. These magazines have math articles that are meant for audiences with a background in college mathematics. Math Horizons is specially meant for college students; we have (online) access through the Wellesley Library. Peruse a recent article for ideas. The College Math Journal and Mathematics Magazine (another more expository journal that can be more advanced) can be searched (but not viewed) at:


Already have a topic presentation in mind?

Here is a list of faculty members who can help assist you as you develop your presentation.

Stanley Chang
  • Applications of linear algebra to economics, genetics and cryptography
  • Number theory
  • Basic topology, the classification of surfaces

Alexander Diesl 

  • Various topics in algebra and number theory

Oscar Fernandez

  • Hamiltonian and non-Hamiltonian Mechanics and Integrability
  • Dynamical Systems
  • Mathematical Physics

Megan Kerr

  • Non-Euclidean geometry: the parallel postulate
  • Sphere-packing
  • Minimal surfaces, double bubble theorem

Karen Lange

  • Topics in Logic; the Recursion Theorem, Goedel's theorems, set theory

Martin Magid

  • Topics in geometry: the Theorem Egregium, the Gauss-Bonnet Theorem
  • Set theory, Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem
  • Non-parametric statistics tests

Andy Schultz 

  • Number theoretic topics including error-correcting codes and check-digit schemes, primality testing and pseudoprimes, the nature of pi (its irrationality, its decimal expansion, etc.), etc.
  • Linear algebra topics including applications image compression and Markov processes
Fred Shultz
  • Linear algebra and applications, including applications to quantum mechanics
  • Dynamical systems, chaos theory
  • Functional analysis, including infinite-dimensional linear algebra, quantum computing, Fourier series
  • Topics in combinatorics

Jonathan Tannenhauser

  • Physics
  • Connections between mathematics and physics or biology

Ann Trenk

  • Topics in graph theory
  • Topics in combinatorics

Ismar Volic

  • Topics in topology: classification of surfaces, the fundamental group, topological groups, interplay between geometry and analysis
  • Knot theory, Seifert surfaces, the Jones polynomial, Poincare conjecture
  • Topics in number theory: quadratic reciprocity, Diophantine equations, cryptography, open problems