SMURCHOM: Providing Opportunities for Undergraduate Research in the History of Mathematics - Why Not History of Mathematics?

Sloan Evans Despeaux (Western Carolina University)

In 2004, I learned about the Regional Undergraduate Mathematics Conferences (RUMC) program, led by the Mathematical Association of America and funded by the Division of Mathematical Sciences of the National Science Foundation.  This program makes small grants to regionally-focused conferences that give undergraduates opportunities to present mathematically-oriented research.  I thought, “Why not propose a conference devoted to undergraduate research on the history of mathematics in the beautiful Smoky Mountains?”  I proposed, the RUMC program kindly accepted, and SMURCHOM was born.  The Smoky Mountain Undergraduate Conference on the History of Mathematics might have an unwieldy acronym (no, it is not a conference for smirking or for small blue cartoon characters), but it has provided opportunities for students to share their work on and enthusiasm about the history of mathematics with their counterparts from institutions around the Southeast and beyond.  Personally, SMURCHOM has given me a way to intensely motivate undergraduate research in my history of mathematics classes.