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The graduate student seminar was started in the spring of 1999 by several junior faculty members. They hoped it would serve as a meeting place for junior faculty members and graduate students to socialize and to talk about mathematics.

The seminar is designed with several goals in mind. The seminar gives everyone a chance to interact outside of class while providing exposure to some of the current interests of the department. As a result, graduate students in their early years have a chance to become more familiar with the potential areas of study. Perhaps the most important goal of the seminar is to provide graduate students with an open forum in which to practice giving mathematical talks in a supportive environment.

The seminar is intended for graduate students and junior faculty in an attempt to foster a less intimidating atmosphere for discussion. Such a friendly, informal environment not only makes it easier for the speakers, but promotes more audience participation. Most talks last about 45 minutes, which leaves sufficient time for comments and questions afterward. There have been a wide variety of topics covered. Many speakers have presented material related to their research while others have chosen to speak about topics that may not be directly related to their studies. Some people have even used the seminar to prepare for professional talks. Though topics vary, the goal is to keep the mathematical intensity at an appropriate level so that graduate students not specializing in that discipline can still follow the presentation and learn something.

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Andrew Kobin