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Yote Senior Makes Most of Presentation Opportunity

November 7, 2023

Over 1,700 people applied to give a presentation at the 2023 Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Diversity in STEM conference. Nearly 1,200 of those applications were approved for the October event in Portland.

A total of 135 people were given awards for their presentations across several categories. From 1,700 applicants down to 135 award-winners. Those winners attended Harvard, MIT, California-Berkeley, Ohio State, UCLA, and Texas A&M, among a long list of distinguished institutions.

Only two of those winners came from schools in the Gem State, one of which was College of Idaho senior Ethan Bassingthwaite. He was recognized for his undergraduate poster presentation in mathematics, titled “A Mathematical Model of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in the Menstrual Cycle.”

The mix of math and science allowed him to present at a conference for the first time.

“It was so much fun,” said Bassingthwaite, who is double-majoring in mathematics-physics and computer science. “I gave my presentation and, after that, I was able to tour the conference and listen to a bunch of professional speakers.”

The touring provided a golden opportunity to network. He plans to attend graduate school with a keen interest in quantum computing, saying working at NASA someday would be a dream job. So he collected business cards, e-mail addresses, and advice about graduate school, reaping additional rewards beyond the presentation recognition.

“The ability to network and talk to people that have a lot of experience was very helpful,” he said.

Bassingthwaite learned about and was encouraged to sign up for the conference by Dr. Brandy Wiegers, Visiting Associate Professor of Mathematics at the College. In a unique twist, this happened over the summer, before Wiegers began working at the College.

“I met Ethan this summer when he attended the NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) that I directed at Central Washington University,” explained Wiegers, who is in her first year as a member of the College’s faculty. “He ended up being selected for my research group and we had the opportunity to work together for eight weeks.”

Bassingthwaite called Wiegers “absolutely amazing,” and relayed a story of her support of his efforts at the conference itself. He was one of the last students allowed to set up for his presentation when Wiegers stepped forward to help.

“Dr. Wiegers was a very big help,” Bassingthwaite explained. “She managed to put up my poster board for me, which was really nice.”

As a first-time presenter, he wasn’t sure what to expect. He visited with one judge who employed a unique style during his presentation – routinely interrupting him to ask pointed questions, testing his knowledge of the information versus simply reciting rehearsed lines.

“Based on the results, I’d like to think that I did pretty well answering his questions,” Bassingthwaite said with a laugh.

The College of Idaho has a 132-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including eight Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit