Miles Mena Wins Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award

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Mathematics Major Miles Mena Wins Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award

Published: April 4, 2022.

Lewis University junior mathematics major, Miles Mena, was honored with the ISMAA Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award at the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America's 2022 Annual Conference at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill.

The award honored Miles for his presentation and paper on the research conducted this past summer at an REU with collaborators Isabel Trindade, Natalie Jean-Michel, and Jonathan Figueroa Reyes, under the mentorship of Dr. Liyang Zhang and Dr. Zhanar Berikkyzy. This project utilized graph theory, probability, and combinatorics to derive the probability of obtaining a spanning tree on a variety of graph families.

While participating in this research, Miles developed a code to analyze small enough graphs to generate data which led to the discovery of a relationship to a problem in combinatorics. He created a bijection between the spanning tree problem and the combinatorics problem that validated the group's results so that we could extend the theorem to more complex graphs.

Miles also has conducted two different research projects under the mentorship of Dr. Amanda Harsy, associate professor of mathematics, as part of the Lewis University Dr. James Girard Summer Undergraduate Research Experience and also as part of the Council of Undergraduate Research in Mathematics. Miles also serves as a peer-mentor as part of the Promotion of Underrepresented Minorities in Academic STEM (PUMA-STEM) Alliance and tutors at the ECaMS Study Tables.

Lewis University is an innovative and forward-thinking Catholic university offering market-relevant undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,200 students. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is nationally recognized for preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected and socially responsible graduates. Visit for further information.

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