Undergraduates Receive Outstanding Research Award

April. 21, 2017 | Joliet, Ill.

USF students Renee Martin and Logan Timmons submitted their original research on NFL overtime rules to the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America this spring where they earned the Outstanding Undergraduate Research award.

Two University of St. Francis (USF) students were awarded the Outstanding Undergraduate Research award at the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America (ISMAA) conference.

Renee Martin, a Poplar Grove, Ill. junior studying accounting and Logan Timmons, a senior from Clermont, Fla. studying actuarial science and finance were partners in the 2016 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) at USF. The pair modeled National Football League overtime rules that changed in recent years from a sudden death format where the first team to score won, to a modified sudden death format, where the initially receiving team cannot win on their first possession with a field goal. In addition, they proposed for an alternative modified sudden death where both teams are required to have possession of the ball at least once during overtime and found this alternative proposal would not significantly increase the length and would moderately improve the fairness of overtime.

Martin and Timmons used Markov chains, a model that represents a sequence of possible events where future events only depend on the present state, to represent overtime. They were able to use the models to analyze the fairness and estimate the average length of overtime under the existing rules and proposed modification.

Their original research paper was submitted to ISMAA for the annual spring conference and the award was determined by the quality of the paper and presentation given at the conference. Undergraduates across the state are eligible to submit their original research for consideration.

USF Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Department Chair Dr. Megan Powell provided guidance to the team as they pursued their research. “I helped them focus their ideas on how to model the different overtime formats and how to appropriately represent their analysis,” said Powell.

“I think this award can serve as an inspiration to other students to pursue research opportunities, even in fields outside of their major,” shared Powell. “This is an accessible project, that those without a math background can still understand the results.”

Timmons feels that this opportunity was not only a confidence booster for him and his partner, but also an opportunity to put USF on the map in terms of excellence in education. “USF is a very prestigious institution full of great faculty and students,” said Timmons. “This award caps off a wonderful college career that I have had at St. Francis.”

For more information about the University of St. Francis and undergraduate research opportunities, please visit stfrancis.edu.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves 3,900 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 48,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu. University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.