Invited Speakers

Southwest Undergraduate Mathematics Research Conference

Tucson, AZ, March 29 - 31, 2019

Dr. Dante Lauretta

Professor, Planetary Science and Cosmochemistry • University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory

Dante Lauretta is principal investigator of the OSIRIS-REx mission and a professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. His research interests focus on the chemistry and mineralogy of asteroids and comets, and he is an expert in the analysis of extraterrestrial materials, including asteroid samples, meteorites and comet particles.

Dr. Lauretta heads a research team at the UA working on this mission, which has included more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students. The mission was selected in 2011, launched in 2016, and returns samples back to Earth in 2023. Sample analysis continues until 2025. This project will help ensure that the University of Arizona remains at the forefront of planetary exploration for the next decade.


The OSIRIS-REx mission will be traveling to Bennu, a carbon-rich, near-Earth asteroid. The spacecraft launched on September 8, 2016, and is scheduled to rendezvous with Bennu in 2018 and ultimately bring samples of the asteroid back to Earth. These samples will be the first for a U.S. mission and may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the organic molecules that may have seeded life on Earth.

The University of Arizona leads the mission for NASA, and it is also providing the science operations team and the spacecraft’s camera system. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center provides overall mis- sion management. Lockheed Martin Space Systems built the spacecraft. United Launch Alliance built the mission’s Atlas V launch vehicle. The mission is in an exciting phase right now as the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is on its outbound journey to Bennu.

Title: TBA

Abstract: Coming soon

Dr. Ricardo Valerdi

Dr. Ricardo Valerdi is a Professor at the University of Arizona in the Department of Systems and Industrial Engineering and Pac-12 Faculty Athletics Representative. Prior to UA, he was a Research Associate in the Engineering Systems Division at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research focuses on improving our understanding of complex systems – both technical and social – by building predictive models. His research has been funded by Army, Navy, Air Force, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and the NCAA. He received a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California. Dr. Valerdi is the Founder and Chief Scientist of the Science of Sport, a not-for-profit spinoff of the University of Arizona designed to promote STEM through sports. He is a consultant to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Oakland A’s, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, and Washington Nationals.

Title: The Science of Baseball


The Science of Baseball program provides a way for K-12 students to engage in math and science in a fun and interactive way. In this spirit, this presentation will showcase how analytics are being used to understand individual player contributions and predict baseball team outcomes. We will also provide an overview of the Sports Analytics class offered in the Sports Management program at the University of Arizona. Videos: and

Dr. Joceline Lega

Title: TBA

Abstract: Coming soon

Dr. Timothy Secomb

Title: TBA

Abstract: Coming soon