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Professor Liz Bouzarth receives CUR mentoring award

Math professor Liz Bouzarth, who joined the Furman faculty in 2011, was honored for her work in mentoring undergraduate students.

Liz Bouzarth, associate professor of mathematics at Furman University, has received a Math and Computer Science Faculty Mentoring Award from the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).

Candidates for the awards must show evidence of undergraduate student mentoring, professional development of students mentored, and also demonstrate the impact and success of those efforts.

Letters of recommendation for the award were written by former Furman students Jordan Brown ’16 and Mary Lib Saine ’18 and Furman mathematics professor Kevin Hutson.

Bouzarth has mentored students working on projects ranging from analysis for the oncology department at Greenville Health System to helping Furman assign roommates for incoming freshmen.

Hutson cites Bouzarth’s efforts in helping to grow the number of undergraduate researchers in the math department from one or two students per summer to eight to 12 per summer. Under Hutson’s and Bouzarth’s leadership, Saine was one of two Furman students who recently presented research about pulmonary fluid flow at the Mathematical Association of America’s MathFest in Chicago, where the two won the Janet L. Andersen Award for Undergraduate Research in Mathematical or Computational Biology.

Said Saine, who will also attend graduate school, “Dr. Bouzarth’s involvement in my Furman career has pushed me to become a better researcher, a more confident mathematician, and a curious learner.”

Bouzarth has mentored students working on projects ranging from analysis for the oncology department at Greenville Health System to helping Furman assign roommates for incoming freshmen.

Bouzarth’s efforts extend beyond the classroom with her involvement in Furman’s May Experience (May X) course “Math and the Mouse” where students learn techniques of mathematical modeling, statistical analysis and flow management at Walt Disney World. Students participating in the May X have pursued research that was presented at a 2016 INFORMS conference and published in an operations research journal.

Bouzarth, along with fellow math professors Kevin Hutson (center) and John Harris, have worked with ESPN to calculate the odds of upsets in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Said Brown, who participated in Math and the Mouse and projects for Greenville Health System and Furman Housing, “I consider Liz my most influential professional mentor and role model, who led me to discover my passion for applying mathematics to real-world problems and guided my development into an independent researcher. She was a major influence in my decision to pursue a doctorate in applied mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”

During college basketball season, Bouzarth has also worked with Furman mathematics faculty in consulting with ESPN. The faculty perform statistical analyses to help sports writers predict potential NCAA men’s basketball tournament upsets. This activity has also spawned research projects and presentations for students.

Before coming to Furman in 2011, Bouzarth was an assistant research professor at Duke University. She holds a bachelor’s in mathematics and physics from Dickinson College and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107 and vince.moore@furman.edu.

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