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July 21, 2022 |
By Dan Margalit
In 2021 the School of Mathematics continued its long running summer REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program. The organizers were Professors Igor Belegradek, Rachel Kuske, and Dan Margalit. This summer the mentors and topics were
- Anton Bernshteyn - Graph coloring
- Jianbo Cui, Luca Dieci and Haomin Zhou - Numerical simulations in optimal transport
- Jorge Gonzales - Dynamical Systems with computer assistance
- Siddhi Krishna and Marissa Loving - Braids, surfaces, and low-dimensional phenomena
- Rachel Kuske - Dynamical modeling for sustainable energy
- Wenjing Liao - High-dimensional data analysis and neural networks
- Doron Lubinsky - Inequalities for polynomials
- Cheng Mao - Comparison of Ranking Systems
- Mayya Zhilova - Resampling methods for statistical models involving heavy-tailed distributions
- Dan Margalit, Wade Bloomquist, Nancy Scherich, Roberta Shapiro, and Yvon Verberne - Curves on Surfaces
- Dan Margalit - Complex dynamics
After a summer in 2020 where the entire program was virtual, SoM was happy to welcome some students back in person. The students were especially excited to be back on campus, leading to an energetic atmosphere in Skiles. Overall, there were 35 undergraduate participants, with 21 working in person on campus.
Besides the research projects, which form the cornerstone of the program, students also participated in a professional development seminar, which covered topics such as: applying to graduate school, writing and delivering talks and posters, and the basics of LaTeX and Inkscape. The seminar was organized by Dan Margalit, Wade Bloomquist, Nancy Scherich, Roberta Shapiro, and Yvon Verberne. The students also participated in tea time, regular social activities, as well as an REU-wide colloquium series.
This year also saw the introduction of the GRE Math bootcamp, a two–month test preparation program, which was well attended by the REU and metro Atlanta students. This program was organized by the graduate director Xingxing Yu and taught by Hyunki Min, a graduate student.
There were two poster sessions, one in Skiles and one online. Both featured outstanding projects and even more outstanding posters and presentations. Among the awards earned by this year’s cohort were an MAA Outstanding Student Paper Session Presentation Award at Mathfest. Students presented their work in the SoM Graph Theory Seminar and at the Tech Topology Conference. Papers from the summer’s research were published in Acta Mathematica Hungarica and Transactions of the American Mathematical Society.
One student, Lily Li, won honorable mention for the Alice T. Schafer prize from the Association for Women in Mathematics, a national prize awarded to “an undergraduate woman for excellence in mathematics.” This was Lily’s second REU in the School.
Based on the REU exit survey, the REU was a great success. Here is one anonymous comment from a participant:
This REU has really made me want to stay in the field of mathematics. Before I did this REU, I had no real idea of what field of math I wanted to explore further. However, this REU has made me want to pursue higher levels of mathematics and learn more about the multiple intersections that math has with other fields, because I found that it was possible to do that in our own research. I would like to learn about higher levels of mathematics moving forward and I am grateful that now I have 5 more people to help me along the way.
-Anonymous survey response
SoM is wrapping up a 5 year REU grant from the National Science Foundation. We plan to apply for more funding to continue this program, and hope to inspire many more students to pursue a career in mathematics.