USAO News Bureau

Vasquez presents mathematics research

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hoping to ease the transition from algebra to geometry for high school students, an undergraduate mathematician from the University of Science and Arts delivered a presentation on his research at a conference in Texas last month.

Preston Vasquez, a senior mathematics major from Bridge Creek, opened the 8th Annual Texas Oklahoma Regional Undergraduate Symposium (TORUS) by presenting a paper titled Motion Without Movement.

Vasquez said that the inspiration for his research came from his work in USAO’s mathematics lab.

“So many people that I work with, who are otherwise able to do algebra, have a really tough time with Euclidean geometry,” Vasquez said. “The two types of math are taught separately and people who are good at one usually struggle with the other and vice versa.”

Vasquez said that Dr. John Paul Cook, assistant professor of mathematics, recommended the writing of mathematician Ian Stewart and Stewart’s book Concepts of Modern Mathematics suggested new ways to consider old problems.

Once he had compiled his research, Vasquez turned to Dr. J.C. Sanders, assistant professor of physics, and Dr. Quan Tran, assistant professor of math, for help in polishing his presentation.

Tran said that Vasquez’s work is representative of USAO’s interdisciplinary approach.

“Too often the teaching of mathematics can become a very segmented process. At the undergraduate level, we teach a little bit of everything and when the student finds the area that appeals to them, that becomes his or her focus.” Tran said.

“Preston is an outstanding student and drawing connections between areas of mathematics that are usually separated so carefully from one another demonstrates his ability to look at the bigger picture, which is rare.”

Vasquez attended the conference with Sanders and Tran. Also attending the conference were Dao Thong Lim, a freshman mathematics major from Chickasha, Aaron Manuel, a senior mathematics and physics major from Sapulpa and Dustin Grider, a sophomore physics major from Tulsa.

The group is part of USAO’s Math, Technology and Science Club, which meets beginning at 11:15 a.m. every other Thursday in room 213 of Austin Hall.

The club has regular speakers in the areas of mathematics, technology and science. 

More information about the club and USAO’s mathematics and science majors can be obtained by contacting Tran at qtran@usao.edu or Sanders at jsanders@usao.edu.