Students discuss summer math opportunities

Author: Shadia Ajam

Math for Everyone - January 2014

This semester’s Math for Everyone series launched last Thursday (Jan. 23), with a panel of students discussing the topic, “What to do mathematically over the summer.”

Moderated by Jeff Diller, professor of mathematics and director for the Seminar for Undergraduate Mathematics Research (SUMR) program, the panel featured five students who spent a summer attending a mathematics-based Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.

Matt Cole shared his experience at two REU programs he attended at the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics at Brown University and another program at Boise State University. Cole had not been exposed to the material he worked on prior to each REU program. “I learned a lot at each REU. I really expanded my horizons and improved my mathematical knowledge,” he explained.

Michael MacGillvray and Daniel Irvine attended REU programs at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Williams College, respectively. Irvine shared that the program at Williams College was “good for picking projects for undergraduates and had great social aspect.”

Whitney Radil, who attended an REU Fairfield University, commented that “these programs are good opportunities to discern whether or not graduate school is for you.”  Mitchell Faulk added that “you can really get a taste of what a Ph.D. experience is like.”  Faulk completed his REU program at College of William and Mary.

When asked about the application process for these programs, Radil recommended that students be open minded and be sure to apply to a wide range of programs. “It’s more important to get any type of research experience than having no experience at all,” said Radil.

Also in attendance at the seminar was Robyn Centilli from the Career Center. Centilli’s engagement team in the Career Center focuses on helping students evaluate what majors and career paths to pursue based on their interests.  

“The career fair is a great way to get to know some of the companies who recruit on campus,” said Centilli. Attendees received brochures that included a list of companies that were recruiting math majors, which are also available at the Career Center. In addition, the Career Center can also offer summer internship funding.

Diller closed the panel discussion by reminding students that they do not have to go far in order to gain experience in math. The College of Science funds 9-10 week summer fellowships for undergraduates pursing science research of all types, including math, with Notre Dame faculty mentors. More information about the Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program is available on the College of Science website.