StFX student Katie MacEachern received a third place Research Award from Dr. Patrick Reynolds at this year’s Science Atlantic Conference in Fredericton.

ANTIGONISH: A local student’s interactive take on exploring mathematical concepts has gained her recognition at an annual conference in Fredericton.

StFX student Katie MacEachern received a third place Research Award at this year’s Science Atlantic Math, Statistics, and Computer Science Conference at the University of New Brunswick in October.

“It was such a great learning opportunity,” said MacEachern, who was one of six StFX students who attended this year. “There are a lot of skills that you learn, like public speaking, and you gain programming and networking skills as well. This conference creates so many different opportunities for all the students that go there.”

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This is the second year in a row that MacEachern placed in the top three at Science Atlantic. The Dundee native graduated from SAERC and is currently in her third year in the computer science program at StFX.

She received the award for her presentation, “Peaceably Coexisting Armies of Queens Game, and a Variation.” It was a continuation of the work she presented last year, in which she explored statistical problems through brain-teaser questions. This year, she chose to explore them in the form of a game.

“I like it better because it’s more fun. It’s an actual game you can play with somebody else,” said MacEachern.

She worked on the project over the summer under the guidance of StFX faculty members Dr. Stephen Finbow and Dr. Martin van Bommel. MacEachern says that her background helped prepare for the experience of presenting at the conference, which was attended by over 210 participants.

“I’ve been in the 4-H program since I was seven or eight years old, so everything I’ve learned from public speaking came from that… so it was really nice to lean on those skills that I learned,” said MacEachern, adding she was excited to have the opportunity to share her work with other participants.

“I got lots of good tips, and my professors have been great… with helping me improve my talks,” said MacEachern.

While she is still exploring future options, MacEachern would like to build on her research and explore how it can be applied in other fields.

“One of the proposals for my thesis would be applying game theory and graph theory to some machine learning techniques in the field of health,” she said.

MacEachern encourages other students to take the opportunity to attend the conference and to explore the learning opportunities that it offers, even if they are not presenting research.

“We try to get as many as we can to come, and we’re trying to reach out to younger people, like the frosh who are coming in, and the second years who aren’t around the department as much… They go to the conference and they get inspired,” said MacEachern.

“There are tons of different opportunities there for students of all years.”