Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
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Department News & Events

Open Government team of Canada, organizing its first Student Challenge

The Open Government team at the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada is organising its first Student Challenge

February 8th, 2019

Are you a current or a recent student at a Canadian post-secondary institution?

We challenge you to share your work with the global open government community!

The Open Government team at the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada is organizing its first Student Challenge! We want to showcase how students are using open data and information available on our portal at The goal is to create opportunities for current and recent students at Canadian post-secondary institutions to participate in the open government community and to demonstrate how open data/information can be used in creative ways to solve real problems.

Fill out our quick application form to be eligible to win one of our Grand Prizes. Up to four winners will be brought to Ottawa to attend the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit being held from May 29-31, 2019!

Deadline for submission is March 31, 2019 at 11:59PM EST.

For more information about the challenge, please visit our website. You’ll find more details about eligibility and prizes, as well as examples of projects.

Please share this message with your student networks. 

We look forward to receiving your application!


2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Opportunities

Undergraduate Summer 2019 Research Opportunities

APPLICATION DEADLINE:  Friday, February 1st, 2019

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics has several undergraduate research assistantships, including some through the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards* program, available for the summer of 2019. These positions are open to current undergraduate students in mathematics and statistics, mathematics and engineering or related fields from Queen’s University or elsewhere. If you have a strong academic record and are interested in gaining research experience in the mathematical sciences we invite you to apply.

A list of available research projects offered by our department can be found here (PDF, 106 KB).  Successful applicants will be expected to work for 16 consecutive weeks, on a full-time basis (35 hrs/wk), between May and August.  Remuneration will be a minimum of $7840** for the entire work term for full-time assistantships.

If you are interested in being considered for a research position, please submit the following to Jennifer Read by February 1st, 2019:

  • A copy of your CV/resume.
  • The title of the project(s) for which you would like to be considered and a brief statement explaining why you are interested in and qualified for that project.  If you are interested in more than one project please rank the projects in order of preference.
  • Copies of transcripts for any studies not completed at Queen’s; the Department can access your Queen’s record.

Submission methods:  Electronically as a PDF to or by hard copy to:

Jennifer Read
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
RM320 Jeffery Hall
Queen's University
Kingston, ON  K7L 3N6

Eligible students will be considered for the NSERC USRA program.  Students selected for an NSERC USRA will be required to complete Form 202 and provide official, up to date (with fall 2018 grades), copies of all transcripts, including for studies completed at Queen’s.

USRA recipients will be selected in accordance with the objectives of that program.  All applicants will be judged on the following criteria:

  1. Academic record;
  2. Research aptitude and/or potential;
  3. Fit/qualifications for the selected project.

Successful applicants will be contacted by 28 February 2019. 

The number of positions will depend on the number of qualified applicants and the amount of funding/awards available.

*Information about the USRA program, including eligibility conditions and general application instructions can be found on the NSERC website.   Students selected for an NSERC USRA will be required to complete and submit FORM 202, Part I using the NSERC Online systemInstructions on completing this form can be found here.   You will be required to upload an official copy of transcripts for all universities attended.  Note that you should not upload a copy of the legend for Queen’s University.  Transcript legends for all other universities must be uploaded.  Part II of the application will be completed by the Department. 

**Before any applicable taxes and deductions.  This amount includes $4500 from NSERC for those selected for a USRA.


Math and Engineering Student part of gold-medal winning QGEM Team

Math and Engineering Student part of multi-disciplinary gold-medal winning QGEM Team

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Eric Grewal is a fourth-year student in the Math and Engineering program, specializing in computing and communications. This year he put his sophisticated modelling skills to work with the Queen’s Genetically Engineered Machine team (QGEM).

QGEM is an undergraduate research and design team with a prestigious pedigree. Each year, a new team is chosen to plan and execute a project using synthetic biology to tackle real world problems in medicine, sustainability, and more. In several recent years the team has won gold at the International Genetically Engineered Machine jamboree held in Boston. This year they were the only team in Ontario to receive a gold medal.

This year, the team developed a pacifier that detects the stress hormone cortisol in babies’ saliva, and transfers the levels to a mobile device. It’s not hard to imagine how much parents would appreciate this innovation. Team leader Elisha Krauss told the Queen’s Journal that he met with members of Autism Ontario over the summer. He said parents of children with autism who are non-communicative were "blown away" by this potential tool for understanding their children’s wellbeing.

So how did Eric’s mathematical skills contribute to this ingenious device? The team comprised biologists, computer scientists, and mathematician Eric. Being able to communicate across disciplines was crucial, Eric says. "As a team we all had to understand what the problem was that we were trying to solve. I had little biology knowledge beyond high school, but had team members who were very knowledgeable in the subject. We were able to perform effectively because the team was able to teach others the relevant knowledge to their field, which allowed everyone to have a more in-depth view. For example, a biologist would explain a concept to a Biology and Computing student, who could then explain the problem to me in terms that I understood, allowing me to create a model." Specific mathematical learning that Eric applied to the problem included ordinary differential equations, Brownian motion and random walks.

More broadly, he applied the mindset that math and engineering has taught him; stepping up to solve big, open-ended problems by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable problems. Eric loves the challenge of the Math and Engineering program. He finds it equips students with skills that give them a head start in the job market. When he worked a summer job at a financial firm, he was recognized for problem solving ability way beyond what was expected from an undergraduate. The skills he has learned have a wide range of applications, from modelling complex solutions to measure babies’ hormone levels, to applying machine learning to the stock market – Eric’s undergraduate thesis project.   

For anyone interested in joining the QGEM team, Eric recommends asking for volunteer positions and being persistent – the team is competitive to get into, but very rewarding if you do.

Credit: Queen’s Journal November 9 2018.


Statistics Canada launches new data challenge for students

Statistics Canada has launched a new data challenge for students

The Business Data Scientist Challenge is underway until March 1, 2019.

This challenge is open to graduate and senior undergraduate students in Economics, Mathematics, Statistics or Computer Science at a Canadian university. Canadian or permanent resident students studying at universities outside Canada are also eligible to apply. 

The competition guidelines can be found on Statistics Canada’s website
For more information on the Business Data Scientist Challenge, please email your question to:


3 Queen's Math profs named Fellows of Canadian Mathematical Society

Ram Murty, Greg Smith, Peter Taylor named Fellows of Canadian Mathematical Society
From left to right: Ram Murty, Greg Smith, Peter Taylor

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Congratulations to Professors Ram Murty, Greg Smith and Peter Taylor, who were named in the inaugural class of Fellows of the Canadian Mathematical Society. The Fellows Program was instituted to recognize mathematicians who have made very significant contributions to the profession and to the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS). The Fellowship recognizes CMS members who have made excellent contributions to mathematical research, teaching, or exposition; as well as having distinguished themselves in serve to Canada’s mathematical community.

The three new fellows felt honoured to have been chosen among the class of 49 inaugral fellows.


All-female Engineering Student Team nets Top Prize

All-female Engineering Student Team nets Top Prize at Project Management Conference
From left to right: Sarah de Lazzari, Tiffanie Bankosky, Serena Corscadden,
Kathryn Instrum

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Engineering students Tiffanie Bankosky, Serena Corscadden, Sarah de Lazzari and Kathryn Instrum arrived at the 2018 International Project Management Day in Toronto ready for most things. They came to compete in a paper competition for project management professionals and students. But they weren’t quite ready for the first question they were asked on arriving at the venue…“are you sure you’re in the right place?”

By the end of the day they had answered with a resounding “yes”, beating out other students and professionals to take the 2018 prize. Their team was the youngest in the competition.

Their journey began at the Bader International Study Centre, where all 4 took a course in Global Project Management last summer. The intensive course teaches the principles of project management and challenges students to think about how engineering operates within global cultures. The 4 students – Tiffanie from Engineering Physics, Serena and Kathryn from Math and Engineering, and Sarah from Mechanical Engineering – worked as a team to examine lessons learned from the clean up of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The course sparked their interest in project management, and the team submitted a paper to the project management paper competition.

At the November 1 conference in Toronto, they presented their paper to an audience of project management professionals - a somewhat daunting task. They credit preparation and open communication within the team as keys to their success. During the question period at the end of their presentation, they trusted the research they had done, and gauged the right depth of answer by watching other teams. Humour helped them connect with the audience. Asked about their recollection of the 2010 tragedy, Tiffanie pointed out that she had only been 10 when it happened!

The team’s astute analysis of the failings around the clean up, and their assured presentation style, earned them a $2,000 prize as well as valuable opportunities to meet people working in project management. The team highly recommend BISC and the global project management course to other students. While in the UK they were introduced to recruiters at prominent companies like Hatch and Goldman Sachs. They also appreciated the chance to work closely with professors in small classes.

The summer experience and the competition have been some of the highlights of these students’ experiences, along with being an orientation leader and enjoying challenging academic programs. They hope that their success will inspire girls to try engineering, where they are thriving.


Talk on Symmetries for Undergrads - given by Catherine Pfaff (Queen's)

Catherine Pfaff (Queen's University)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Time: 7:00 p.m.  Place: Jeffery Hall 234

Speaker: Catherine Pfaff (Queen's University)

Title: Symmetries, Outer Space, & the Outer Automorphism Group of the Free Group.

Abstract: The symmetries of a polygon form a group. This group acts on the polygon by rotating it and flipping it. This basic idea of studying a group as symmetries of an object extends far beyond polygons. My favorite group is the outer automorphism group of the free group. Through a myriad of colorful pictures I will introduce this group and the object, Culler-Vogtmann Outer Space, that it acts on. No advanced mathematical knowledge will be assumed & of course we will also play with doughnuts!


Math & Stats Homecoming Reception - October 20th 2018

Math & Stats Alumni Homecoming

October 20th, 2018

Math & Stats Homecoming Reception

Time & Place: 10:30am-12:00pm | Jeffery Hall

Welcome home to the Math and Statistics Department! We invite all alumni who will be in Kingston for homecoming to join us at a reception in the lobby of Jeffery Hall on Saturday 20 October from 10.30am-12.00pm


Six Undergraduate students attend CUMC 2018

October 18th, 2018

Six Undergraduate students attend CUMC 2018

Last summer, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics supported 6 undergraduate students to attend the Canadian Undergraduate Mathematics Conference (CUMC) in Saskatoon. The department is committed to encouraging undergraduate research. By providing financial support we made it possible for students to attend the conference, where they made connections and were inspired by fellow math students from across Canada. They are now part of a committed group of Queen’s students who are bringing CUMC 2019 to Queen's!

Lily Summers

CUMC 2018

From left to right:
Riley Becker, Lily Summers, Fernando Camacho-Cadena, Troy Giorshev,
Chelsea Crocker, Matthew Spragge

Lily Summers - Statistics Major '19

"This past summer I had the opportunity to attend the Canadian Undergraduate Mathematics Conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had throughout my undergraduate degree. This conference gave me the opportunity to meet new people from across the country visiting from multiple universities. I’ve developed unique connections with these people through our mutual interest in Math and Stats. These new connections to other students and academics would not have been made if I hadn’t attended the conference. It was incredible to experience a different learning environment while also being able to discuss different topics such as Gender and Diversity in this applied science. I’ve learnt a lot from this experience and I encourage others to try to attend next year’s CUMC which will be hosted here at Queen’s U".

Fernando Camacho-Cadena

Fernando Camacho-Cadena - 4th year Apple Math

"Giving a talk with Troy about our summer research at the conference was a great experience. We had a small audience, which gave the talk a very relaxed feel. This was true for the conference, making the focus of the event a get together of people passionate about math. Going to other student talks was also very interesting, not only due to their content, but also because learning new material from peers is not something that we experience during the degree".

Troy Giorshev

Troy Giorshev - 3rd year Apple Math

"Attending CUMC was an incredible experience. From discussions with students and members of academia and industry, to giving my own presentation, I grew as a student of mathematics in a truly unique way. It was great to listen to other students present. I could tell how passionate everyone was, and it inspired me to continue my own explorations in mathematics. As well, the conference gave me an opportunity to talk with brilliant people from all across Canada, giving each other our different perspectives and experiences in a casual, accepting environment. On top of the student talks, there were valuable presentations given from both professors in academia and members of industry, enriching the overall experience. I would highly recommend the conference to anyone in the mathematical sciences, or really anyone with any interest in math!".

Chelsea Crocker

Chelsea Crocker - 4th year Math Major

"I have been honoured with the opportunity of being able to attend the Canadian Undergraduate Mathematics Conference this past summer. The conference’s main goal was to bring undergraduate math students from across Canada together in a supportive environment. The bulk of the conference involved fellow undergraduate students giving talks on different math topics. I found it extremely inspiring meeting other young mathematicians like myself and to learn about new things from them. I think CUMC is important because there is no other event of its kind for undergraduate math students. It fosters such a positive environment and encourages students to keep continuing with mathematics".

Matthew Spragge

Matthew Spragge - 3rd year Math Major

"Attending the Canadian Undergraduate Mathematics Conference (CUMC) at the University of Saskatchewan this past July was an incredible experience that I was fortunate enough to be able to share with an outstanding group of people. The week was not only full of interesting mathematics, but there were a variety of social events where I met a great deal other math student from all across Canada. I think the fact that so many different people are brought together for a week every year to share their current fascinations with mathematics and build relationships with their peers in the math community is what makes the CUMC so special".