Duke Hosts Successful GROW Conference

GROW 2022 participants in front of Duke Chapel

With its talks, panels and social activities, the GROW 2022: Graduate Research Opportunities for Women conference encouraged more women (cisgender, transgender or woman-identified) and nonbinary undergraduates to apply to graduate school in mathematics.

Following the three-day event, held in late October at Duke University, 89 percent of the undergraduate attendees said they are more likely or very likely to attend math grad school. That’s up from 72 percent before the conference.

Now in its eight year, GROW 2022 featured plenary speaker Hee Oh, Abraham Robinson Professor of Mathematics from Yale University, who recounted her experiences with math as a child, her times as an undergraduate and graduate student, and challenges as an early career faculty member. Other speakers included Emille D. Lawrence, associate professor from University of San Francisco, Laure Flapan, assistant professor from Michigan State, Anna Haensch, senior data scientist at Tufts University, Autumn Kent, professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Robin Wilson, professor at Cal Poly Pomona University.

Four panel discussions were also held that focused on providing practical advice and goal-setting for the 82 undergraduates from 55 institutions across North America in attendance. Panelists – including those from Duke, UNC, Ohio State, Wake Forest, Michigan State, San Francisco, Wisconsin and NC State – talked about life with a Ph.D., the research landscape, applying to grad school, and more.

Comments from GROW 2022 Participants:

“This was a fabulous conference. I not only feel more prepared for grad school, but also really excited!!”

“I am feeling so inspired after this weekend! Both by the badass professional women who presented on the panels and talks and by the other students…”

"The talks and panels were very informative and have reinvigorated my passion for math amidst some of the doubts and insecurities I’ve been battling with."

"This was wonderfully organized and very well put together — literally nothing could’ve been better, thank you so much!"

"I really appreciate that GROW exists and it was amazing getting to be around all these incredible women and nonbinary people in math!"

"I felt seen while at this program and supported in all the intentions I expressed."

"GROW was absolutely an amazing experience. I gained so much in the mere 48 hours I was there. Every single girl was inspiring and incredible, and I feel as though I built stronger connections here than I have anywhere else in a longer time span."

"I'm really thankful for this experience and I'm glad I attended! Coming in, I was unsure about my path forward in math, but now I feel more confident … that there would be a place for me to still be able to do math and make a living in the future."

About GROW

Hee Oh with GROW 2022 attendees
Plenary Speaker Hee Oh poses with attendees of the GROW 2022 conference

GROW 2022 was held at Duke after the university won a national competition to host the event. Duke will also host the 2023 event. Lead organizer for the event at Duke is Shira Viel, assistant professor of the practice, with scientific coordinator Lillian Pierce, Nicholas J. and Theresa M. Leonardy Professor. The organizing committee includes Paul Bendich, Dorothy Buck, Xiuyuan Cheng, Veronica Ciocanel, Nicholas Cook, Adam Levine, Jianfeng Lu, Colleen Robles, and Marc Ryser. Program coordinator is Shanon Jacobs.

GROW 2022 is made possible thanks to the support of the Duke University Department of Mathematics, the Chair of Duke Mathematics, the Duke University Office of the Provost, the Duke University Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Office of the Dean, the Duke University Dean of Natural Sciences, the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke University, the National Science Foundation (DMS-1652173 CAREER, DMS-2200470, DMS-2154029, and TRIPODS), Nicholas CookAnita LaytonSayan Mukherjee, and Lillian Pierce.

GROW is organized in cooperation with the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and supports the Welcoming Environment and Diversity and Inclusion Statements of the AWM. It is organized through the Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Innovation (IMSI).