Meet Our Students

Mathematics & Statistics students at UMKC come from all over the world and explore diverse interests. Get to know our students, and you’ll learn what our programs are about. Here are a few examples. 



“I’m a senior studying to be an actuary. I transferred here from another university last year. UMKC’s positive environment is really something valuable compared to the atmosphere of other universities. The Math & Stat Department has excellent professors.”  John P. Murphy, (Math Major, Class of  2020)

Mastin Tapp is a senior majoring in Mathematics and Statistics. He chose to attend UMKC because the mathematics department seemed to be a good fit for him. During his free time, he likes to sing and play the guitar. He also loves to hike in the Rocky Mountains. After graduation, Mastin hopes to begin a career at Boeing as a Systems Engineer. He would like to thank Dr. Richard Delaware for guiding him through his research. He put countless hours into editing Mastin’s work and helping him become a better mathematician.


Daiwa Emmert (Class of 2018) combines her strength training and math experiences to empower girls in the classroom. Below is a short interview with Daiwa. You can read the full story at the end.

Why did you choose UMKC?

Growing up, I came to Kansas City a lot to go visit my grandparents and attend Chiefs games. I knew I wanted to experience a different culture in a big city.

You have a unique name. What’s the story? 

Daiwa—it rhymes with Iowa! It means “sweet harmony” in Japanese. It’s also a brand of fishing reel my dad uses.

Why did you choose math?

I started at UMKC as a biology major, but after my first semester, I didn’t really feel like it fit. I was more drawn to the calculus class I was taking, but I still wanted to make an impact in the community. So, I ended up changing my field of study to a double major with math and secondary education.

What are the challenges and benefits of the program?

When you get to upper level mathematics, it is not going to focus on just the calculations; proving statements is just as important. It takes a long time to develop the skills needed to be able to logically explain a solution without flaws.

The benefits are challenging myself and meeting people with the same love for math.

What are your lifelong goals?

My biggest goal is to have a family and become a high school or college teacher in math. I just want to be an influence on younger girls — especially in math. I connect with math, the repetition connected with me. I’ve had teachers who were passionate about math and I want to have that kind of positive impact.

[Update: Now that Daiwa graduated from UMKC and is a high school math teacher, her new goal is to teach college-level math at high school.]

Who do you admire most at UMKC?

I admire the faculty and staff that I have interacted with. They are so supportive and really express how much they care about my success.

What’s your greatest fear?

Clowns. They are definitely not invited to my birthday party.

What is one word that best describes you?

Caring. I am always willing to help someone if they need it.

Read the full story here

Keith Robinson was born in 1988 in Kansas City, Missouri. He attended Archbishop O’Hara high school where he played basketball and was a member of the team that won a state championship. He then graduated and attended school in Florida where he majored in chemical engineering. Keith transferred to a junior college in California to play basketball collegiately. He earned a degree in business then obtained a scholarship to play in Canada where he changed his major to mathematics.  Keith graduated from UMKC with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics.

Why did you become a Math Major?
Doing mathematics has always been something I have been good at. Also a lot of people don’t know that a degree in mathematics opens a lot of doors when it comes to choosing a career.
How has the Math Department inspired you?
Everyone in the UMKC Math Department is brilliant in my eyes. The professors are very helpful, the graduate students have a lot of insight and the classes are challenging, yet very interesting.
Tell us about the UMKC Math Club.
Math Club was created to provide students the opportunity to form relations with like-minded individuals. Math Club isn’t closed to only math majors but to anyone with an interest in mathematics. The Math Club also gives our students the opportunity to kick back, take a break from studies and have some fun. They host events like Pi Day, movie nights, social events and the list goes on.
What is the purpose of the Convergence room (Manheim 205C)?
The Convergence is a room that gives math majors their own spot to hang out. You can catch people in there studying hard for tests or working on homework, or you can find people in The Convergence relaxing and just chatting it up.
Tell us about the Math and Stat professors and the graduate students at UMKC.
Very helpful! If ever you need a professor at UMKC it is never extremely hard to reach them and schedule a meeting to get help. I have even emailed a few professors over the weekend and would get replies back the same day. They are extremely helpful and want to see every student be successful.
From your point of view, what is the most fascinating part of mathematics?
I feel that mathematics opens your world to a different way of thinking. I like the fact that mathematics is used in other fields to solve important problems. And it is a known fact that we use math everyday whether we realize it or not.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
In 10 years I would love to be a VP with my current employer, Cerner.
Do you have any advice for those who are afraid of becoming a math major?
Mathematics can be a scary topic, but my advice is to just dive in if you have a passion or even an interest in the subject. Getting a degree in math has been one of the most rewarding things that I have accomplished in my life.
How is the job market for those who have a degree in Mathematics?
It took me a couple of months to find a job but that’s not bad at all. I feel that the job market for math majors is very vast. Math majors are sought after because we are problem solvers, we’re analytical and good with numbers. On top of that being that we obtained a degree in math, employers tend to believe we can easily pick up on any task assigned to us because the job will most likely not be anywhere near as hard as any math class you have taken.
Do you recommend the UMKC Math Department to obtain a degree in Mathematics?
Yes I certainly do!




“As a non-traditional undergraduate student with a full-time job and family, I’ve been very pleased with how understanding and helpful all of my professors have been. I love how diverse the faculty is, both in background and place of origin. I appreciate opportunities I’ve been given to get hands on with applications and software such as Matlab in class. I would actually like to see even more applications, perhaps in collaboration with the Physics, Computer Science, or Geosciences departments. Upon returning to college, my intention was originally to just get my B.S. to help me advance in my career as a business analyst, but after my time with the UMKC math program I’ve decided to continue my studies, most likely in Statistics or Applied Mathematics.” Nathan W. Gearhart (Math Major, Class of 2015)


“During my two years as a math major in the UMKC Department of Mathematics & Statistics, I have had the privilege of learning mathematics from some truly fantastic professors. For instance, I had the opportunity of participating in three group projects in an introductory linear algebra course that provided hands-on, problem-solving introductions to the applications of mathematics to the fields of computer science, economics, and ecology. This experience deepened my understanding of both the pure and the applied aspects of linear algebra and helped open my eyes to the incredible versatility and usefulness of mathematics in almost every modern field of study. I am very proud to be studying mathematics at UMKC”  David R. Ward, (Math Major, Class of  2015)

For Shelby Bell Math is No. 1!

Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Statistics with a minor in Computer Science, 2018 | College of Arts and Sciences | Hometown: Independence, Missouri

Why math?

I chose to study mathematics and statistics because I have always been really good at it and it is one of the only things I thoroughly enjoy doing on a daily basis.

What are the challenges and benefits of the math program?

Math is a very difficult subject in general, and that makes the program a challenge. However, the main challenge of the program for me has been trying to decide when to take certain math classes to prepare me for graduate school or other courses I need to take since some courses are only offered once a year and sometimes even less than that.

The main benefit of this program is that it teaches you to persevere. Studying math means you will fail and makes mistakes often. This program, and all the professors in it, teach you how to be a better student and more importantly, teach you to keep trying.

What do you admire most at UMKC?

The thing I admire most about UMKC is that they want everyone to succeed in what they do here. I admire this most because there are so many different places where students can go to receive help on challenging subjects. There is the math and science tutoring center in the library, the Supplemental Instruction program and so much more!

Are you a first-generation college student?

Yes, and being a first-generation college student means helping my family as much as I can. My dad and grandma worked so hard to get me whatever I needed when I was growing up even though we didn’t always have the money. My hope is that my degree will enable me to be able to take care of them someday.

Laila: Studying math has helped improve my problem-solving ability

Laila - Mathematics and Statistics

Why did you choose your major?

I love science and I wanted to go to med school; however, when my Calc III class conflicted with chemistry, I chose to study math. The Math Department is amazing. My professors are knowledgeable and love what they teach. I find math problems, especially proofs, more absorbing than anything else I’ve studied.

What will you take from your experience at UMKC into your professional career?

Studying math has helped improve my problem-solving ability. I’m not intimidated by problems because I can solve smaller pieces at a time. I’m also not as easily frustrated because I know sometimes you have to think about a problem many ways before you can solve it.

What do you love about UMKC?

UMKC surrounds the Linda Hall Library, which has many fantastic, old, original textbooks, including translations of works you can’t find on Google. I discovered the story of one of my favorite mathematicians, Thomas Harriot, at the library. He was an algebraist in the 17th century who never published his theory manuscripts. For over 300 years, scholars relied on a poor posthumous reckoning of his work until a scholar came along and accurately translated his work for the rest of the world.


Meet a Lucerna Author: Whitney White

My Lucerna project is about the Divergence Theorem, a famous mathematical theorem with common applications in the branch of physics. I analyze the 1831 proof of The Divergence Theorem and connect it to our modern understanding of it as printed in our textbooks. This original proof had not previously been translated into English and is first published here in this paper. I also hope to rightfully credit the theorem’s initial author, Michael Ostrogradsky. Though his theorem is commonplace, his name is not, and I believe he should be recognized.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I graduated from UMKC in December 2018, and I have a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.S. in Physics. These two fields are my passions, and The Divergence Theorem is used in both. The most incredible part of this project was getting my hands on the original historical document, in French, from 1832, at Linda Hall Library. I was floored to hold that history in my hands, and I was over the moon to learn that no translation existed. The history is incredible and being the first person to translate it makes me feel like I have a small part in this history as well.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

I don’t speak French. Translating a very important piece of history from an unfamiliar language is scary and was the greatest challenge of my project. Of course, I did not want to disrespect or misrepresent the original work, so I had to be meticulous and accurate. I was lucky when my professor found a paper that translated common French mathematical terms into English. After completing the translation and connecting the original and modern proofs of The Divergence Theorem, I now better understand it. This more in-depth understanding of the logic behind each line of the proof is the greatest personal benefit of completing this project.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

A student hoping to publish in Lucerna should pick a novel topic that they find compelling. If you care about your research, it will show. It is also important to start your work early, compose multiple drafts, and ask for help in tearing them apart.

What are your professional plans or goals?

I plan to pursue a doctorate in Biostatistics at KU Medical Center beginning Fall of 2019. I will use that experience to pursue further research opportunities in the field of medical statistics. In my future work, I hope to continue to tie together past and present knowledge to spread new information.

Undergraduate Research Provides Rich Experiences

Student translates original 19th century manuscript to support research in mathematics

Whitney White, B.S. mathematics and physics, was excited to find that a historical document that she needed for her undergraduate research was available in its original form at the Linda Hall Library. She was undaunted by the fact that it had never been translated from its original French, even though she did not speak the language.

“I was floored to hold that history in my hands,” White said of the document, which was created in 1831. “And I was over the moon to learn that no translation existed. The history is incredible and being the first person to translate it makes me feel like I have a small part in this history as well.”

Mathematics and physics are White’s passion, and the Divergence Theorem is used in both.  Translating the theorem in an unfamiliar language was daunting, but she was undeterred. One of her professors provided a paper that translated common French mathematical terms into English.

“I did not want to misrepresent the original work, so I had to be meticulous and accurate,” White said.  “But after completing the translation and connecting the original and modern proofs of the Divergence Theorem, I now better understand it. This more in-depth understanding of the logic of the proof is the greatest personal benefit of completing this project.”

Henrietta Rix Wood, Ph. D., associate teaching professor at the Honors College, notes that this is why undergraduate research is important.

“Undergraduate research is a fun and rewarding way for students to develop important skills, such as posing questions and figuring out how to answer them, testing ideas and applying theories, and sharing their findings.”
Henrietta Rix Wood, Ph. D.

She also believes these skills extend beyond the university setting.

“As students contribute to scholarly conversations, they practice the important life skills of problem solving and persevering when things do not go as planned.”

White’s research was published in the latest issue of Lucerna, UMKC’s annual interdisciplinary journal of undergraduate research. Students are welcome to submit research papers written anytime during their academic careers at UMKC.

White says that students interested in being published in Lucerna should pick a novel topic that interests them.

“It‘s important to start your work early, compose multiple drafts and ask for help in tearing them apart,” White says. “If you care about your research, it will show.”

Wood, who is the current Lucerna faculty advisor, encourages students to submit their research.

“This process also is about the thrill of discovery, which Whitney felt when she learned that Linda Hall Library had a historical document that was crucial to her project. I think undergraduate research truly enhances a student’s learning experience.”

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This entry was posted in UMKC Today

Additional Student Testimonials

The ways we learn math and physics are so different. In math, the courses we take usually build on each other a lot. Arithmetic prepares you for algebra, which then prepares you for trigonometry and pre-calculus, which then prepares you for calculus and so on. I might be generalizing a little bit; this has just been my experience. Zoe Lemon,  (Physics Major with a Minor in Mathematics, 2017)

I chose a field of study that incorporated elements of public health, computer science and mathematics! – LeAnna Cates (Biology Major with a Minor in Mathematics, 2017)  The Interface of Biology and Mathematics Brings LeAnna An Outstanding Achievement! Read More

It’s not easy going from a math class where you spend an hour thinking about one part of a proof, to a biology class where you cover over 100 pages of the textbook in only 50 minutes. But these challenges have provided great opportunities. Not only in developing diverse problem-solving skills, I can also clearly see how these two departments can work together to solve problems. This summer I am excited to begin my own research, studying modeling and analysis of probiotics.  Megan Oldroyd IPhD student (Primary discipline: mathematics Co-discipline: cell biology and biophysics, 2015)

I love  working at Center High School. I ended up substitute teaching in the Learning Lab at Center for the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year, and got hired on full time for the current school year.  So I started off  grad school teaching 2 sections of College Algebra at UMKC, taking two grad level classes, and working full-time.  And on top of that, I was the new grader for the VSI program at UMKC.  Needless to say, I had no time to do my school work, and ended up having to leave Center in January.  Since then, I have been substitute teaching on semester breaks, and again at the end of the current school year. I adore the students at Center and I try to keep in contact with the school in hopes that I can teach there once I finish grad school. Kris Kathman, (Master’s Student, Aug 2013)

I am pursuing a dual major degree in Computer Science and Physics which involves taking several courses in mathematics. Without mathematics neither of my degree choices would be possible. Taking mathematics courses has allowed me to discover various mathematical applications that apply to my area of study. I hope to one day further develop both areas of studies through the use of skills obtained from mathematical courses. William J. Freeman, (UMKC-Student, 2014)