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Student Presents Research at Mathematical Meeting

January 29, 2021

In summer 2020, St. John Fisher College Honors student Natalie Petruzelli was selected to attend the Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI) Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program at The Ohio State University.

Natalie Petruzelli

While the REU program was virtual due to COVID-19, Petruzelli and her fellow participants engaged in the traditional aspects of the program, including talks from different researchers, presentations on their research, and research with advisors.

Participants worked in pairs, based on their interests, throughout the program. Petruzelli “met” her partner, Keegan Kresge, a computational mathematics major at RIT, about a week before the project started. Together they worked on their project, “Modeling Local and Global Epidemics,” under the guidance of advisors Dr. Greg Rempala and Dr. Eben Kenah, both professors at Ohio State. Dr. Wasiur KhudaBukhsh, a postdoctoral scholar at the MBI, also provided support. Their advisors were on the official OSU modeling team that reported to the state health department of Ohio, which brought added excitement to the project; at one point, the state became very interested in the project they were working on.

As often happens during research, the team’s work diverged from the initial plans. The paper based on their work, “Analyzing Epidemic Thresholds on Dynamic Network Structures.” is currently under review with the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics’ web-based publication, Undergraduate Research Online (SIURO).

As part of the REU, Petruzelli and Kresge presented their work for the MBI capstone experience in August. In January 2021, they presented their work at the Joint Mathematical Meetings (JMM) in the AMS-MAA-SIAM Special Session on Research in Mathematics by Undergraduates and Students in Post-Baccalaureate Programs, IV. This year the Joint Mathematical Meetings (JMM) was held online, and this format provided an opportunity for students to attend when they might not have been able to otherwise. Fisher had six students, Petruzelli, Maria Covelli (Honors), Clarissa Hensler (Honors), Joseph Torrillo, MacGregor Winegard, and Kailyn Woodard, attend the JMM virtually, and were joined by faculty members Kris Green, Erica Johnson, and Ryan Gantner.