Collaborative Research: CSUMS: URGE to Compute
John Ringland Principal Investigator
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Ringland<br/>DMS-0802994<br/>Carbonara<br/>DMS-0802964<br/><br/> URGE to Compute provides a year-long computationally<br/>intensive Undergraduate Research Group Experience in the<br/>mathematical sciences to an annual cohort of 12 undergraduate<br/>mathematics majors. A collaboration of the University at Buffalo<br/>(UB), Buffalo State College (BSC), and the Hauptman-Woodward<br/>Medical Research Institute, the project brings together an<br/>interdisciplinary group of 16 faculty researchers who have a<br/>shared sense of the importance of computation in the mathematical<br/>sciences, a record of successful supervision of undergraduate<br/>research, and a commitment to increasing the effectiveness of the<br/>preparation of students at UB and BSC for post-graduate education<br/>and careers in the many fields that now demand a combination of<br/>computational and mathematical skills. Prior to commencing the<br/>full-year research experience, students take calculus,<br/>differential equations, linear algebra, and a new sophomore<br/>course in scientific and mathematical computing which was<br/>developed with this project in mind and is offered to all math<br/>majors. Special efforts are made to recruit minorities and<br/>women, who are underrepresented in the mathematical sciences. <br/>The year of research begins in the Spring semester of the<br/>students' junior year with: a support course that provides<br/>background on the theme that unifies all the research projects<br/>for that year (e.g. stochastic processes in 2009); a team-taught<br/>course on the tools and methods of computational research;<br/>regular meetings with the research project mentor; and the first<br/>part of a seminar that runs throughout the year. Research<br/>continues through the summer, and students write an honors thesis<br/>or a paper for publication in the Fall. Computational resources<br/>available to the students include a 2000-node cluster and a<br/>visualization laboratory at UB's Center for Computational<br/>Research. Talks by eminent outside researchers are a feature of<br/>the seminar, and students attend a national conference in an area<br/>related to their research, disseminate their results at regional<br/>meetings and local exhibitions of undergraduate scholarship, and<br/>participate in outreach activities at local high schools. After<br/>the year is over, in their final undergraduate semester, the now<br/>highly trained students serve as teaching assistants in the<br/>introductory differential equations course that is taken by all<br/>mathematics, engineering, and science students. <br/><br/> Over the multi-year course of the project, the research<br/>focuses on a wide variety of topics of societal importance. <br/>These include optical fiber communications, agricultural pest<br/>control, cryptography, medical imaging, and the behavior of<br/>materials (from semiconductor devices to mudflows). The project<br/>not only trains a select annual cohort in these vital areas, but<br/>also reaches a substantial fraction of all math majors at UB and<br/>BSC with a curriculum that is computationally enriched by the<br/>preparation and support courses for the project, and a<br/>departmental life that is enhanced by the seminars and the<br/>exposure to peers engaged in research. The project is supported<br/>by the MPS Division of Mathematical Sciences, the MPS Office of<br/>Multidisciplinary Activities, and the EHR Division of<br/>Undergraduate Education.