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Intellect

BYU Math Department hosts NSF-funded research experience for undergraduates

Twelve students chosen from 150 applicants representing universities and colleges from throughout the country recently completed the Fifth Annual Brigham Young University Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), an eight-week program that helps collegiate mathematics students prepare for graduate school.

Students participating in the program from schools in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Arkansas, Ohio, Florida, Wyoming, South Carolina and California completed mathematical research under the BYU program, which is sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

REU participants are given free housing, a $3,250 stipend, a $500 travel allowance to travel to BYU as well as a $750 travel allowance to attend a mathematical conference to present their research.

To learn more about the REU or to apply to participate next summer, visit www.math.byu.edu/reu/.

The experience provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to experience significant mathematical research and to learn to be successful in graduate school. It also serves to encourage undergraduate students, especially female students and students from institutions with limited research opportunities, to attend graduate school in mathematics, according to Shaina Richardson, REU project manager at BYU.

“REU accomplishes this by providing the participants with the skills necessary to help them do well in graduate school by offering training sessions in computers, seminars on needed research skills and discussions on questions regarding graduate school,” she said.

“By encouraging students to continue on to graduate school, we are helping them discover a well-paying, very satisfying and often flexible career opportunity,” she said.

This year the program was focused on three research groups — minimal surfaces, Steiner problem and graph theory. “This research is unique in that there is no answer for the problems in the back of the book,” said Richardson.

BYU mathematics professors were chosen as mentors for each group and helped the students learn how to best conduct research for each of their problems. Although the research is intense, REU participants took time out for Jet Skiing, hiking the beautiful Utah mountains and white-water rafting in Southern Utah, activities that helped foster collaboration within the research groups.

Eight of the 12 participants will be attending the MathFest Conference in Portland, Oregon, where they will present the research that they have completed during the summer. The remaining four will be attending the Mathematical Association of American Joint Meetings in January in San Francisco, Calif. It is the goal of the REU program to see the students eventually publish their research.

For more information, contact Shaina Richardson at (801) 422-7894.

Writer: Brandon Garrett

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