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Elisabeth Edwards Presents Math Research at Major National Conference in Nebraska

March 25, 2004

Diving is an art form that requires perfect symmetry on the part of the performer. Given only that background, Lis Edwards '04 is already more than qualified to speak on the intertwinement of mathematics and art.

Edwards, of Belle Meade, N.J., presented research last month at the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

With more than 150 participants from colleges and universities throughout the country, the event is perhaps the premier conference of its type, says Louis Zulli, assistant professor of mathematics at Lafayette, who accompanied Edwards and two other students to the conference.

Edwards, a mathematics major and four-year member of the varsity swimming and diving team, presented research on "Isometries and Wallpaper Groups." Her work focused on two-dimensional symmetries and their manifestations in the art of M.C. Escher. The presentation combined geometry, abstract algebra, and art appreciation, notes Zulli. The research is part of a yearlong honors research project Edwards is conducting under the guidance of Gary Gordon, professor of mathematics.


"Lis' poster was visually striking -- an interesting blend of mathematics and art -- and attracted a lot of attention," Zulli says.

Edwards plans to attend graduate school in mathematics and has already gained acceptance to one school.

"The conference was very beneficial in getting a glimpse of what that experience may be like," she says. "There were panels of those who were currently attending as well as those who were finished with graduate school. Some of them attended a small liberal arts college, like Lafayette, so it was especially good to hear how they handled the transition."

"This was my first time at NCUWM, which has quickly become a leading undergraduate research conference in mathematics," says Zulli. "I enjoyed the conference very much, and it was encouraging to see so many talented and enthusiastic young mathematicians. The talks I attended were typically quite good, and several were truly outstanding."

In addition to competing in varsity swimming, Edwards is a community service assistant for Lafayette's Landis Community Outreach Center, a teaching assistant for calculus classes, a peer tutor, and a member of Marquis Players, a student group that produces and performs an annual musical to raise money for local charities. She has served as philanthropy chair of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.

She is a graduate of Montgomery High School.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Forty-two Lafayette students have had their proposals accepted for presentation at the next annual conference in April.