The goal of this CSUMS project is to build a diverse group of undergraduate students in the computational mathematical sciences program at Arizona State University, each of whom participates in cutting-edge research projects during the last two years of their undergraduate programs. At any given time, two cohorts of 11 students each participate: they begin the program at the start of their junior year and complete it at the end of their senior year (i.e., after 4 semesters). Incoming students, whose expected preparation includes multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and ordinary differential equations, participate in a 1-credit seminar course for two semesters to prepare them for the upcoming summer's projects. Summer projects consist of 8 to 10 weeks of full-time work on a research project under the supervision of an experienced faculty mentor. Students who have completed their projects give practice talks in the seminar and are expected to present their work at appropriate professional conferences as well as to write an honors thesis or research paper.

Student research projects involve timely problems in atmospheric sciences, including weather and climate forecasting; supply-chain modeling; mathematical techniques for improved medical imaging (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging); and mathematical biology (e.g., models for human cellular processes). The students, who must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, have an opportunity to work on massively parallel (2000+ processor) machines through ASU's Fulton High Performance Computing Initiative and to do high-performance graphics at ASU's Decision Theater. These experiences prepare students for advanced work in climate dynamics, drug discovery, aerospace design, and similar topics at top graduate schools across the United States. Special efforts are made to recruit students who are first-generation college students, women, and members of other underrepresented groups in the mathematical sciences. The project is supported by the MPS Division of Mathematical Sciences, the MPS Office of Multidisciplinary Activities, and the EHR Division of Undergraduate Education.

Project Report

This project involved six cohorts of undergraduate students at Arizona State University (ASU), all of whom were majors (or double majors) in mathematics, statistics, or computational mathematical sciences; all supported students were U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The program was centered on extended group research projects in computational mathematics for talented undergraduates considering graduate studies. Most students entered the program at the start of their third (junior) year, though exceptional second-year students also were admitted. They were supported for three to four semesters during the academic year with an 8-week research experience in the intervening summer. The research projects included the use of the Weather Research and Forecast model on 128 parallel processors to trace atmospheric fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster and to model the vortex dynamics of Hurricane Katrina; the development and analysis of mathematical models of human brain tumors, astrophysical jets, the development of the heart in Drosophila larvae, and the movement of phytoplankton blooms in the open ocean; and mathematical methods for magnetic resonance imaging applications. All students gave oral or poster presentations at appropriate research conferences, including the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics' Computational Science and Engineering Conference; the Joint Mathematics Meetings; the Southwest Undergraduate Mathematics Research Conference; and several others. Several of the projects led to research papers that have been (or will be) published in refereed scientific journals. Altogether, this project supported 82 unique students, including 70 Arizona residents and 22 first-generation college students. To date, 72 participants have graduated with a bachelor's degree from ASU's School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, 31 with Honors. At the conclusion of the project, 29 students were enrolled in (or had completed) Ph.D. programs in pure or applied mathematics, statistics, or related areas, including physics, meteorology, biostatistics, bioinformatics, epidemiology, operations research, systems biology, and economics at Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Brandeis, Boston University, Johns Hopkins, Southern California, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Florida, Ohio State, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Purdue, UC Davis, UC Irvine, and UCLA. All of the Ph.D. students have received teaching assistantships and/or research fellowships. Seven Ph.D. students are in ASU's mathematics or mathematics education programs; one has graduated and the remainder are still working on their theses. Two students are enrolled in the concurrent BS/MA program in mathematics; 8 have completed master's degrees in mathematics, mathematics education, or computer science. Three students are in medical school; two in law school; and one is in a joint law/public policy master's program. Three students won National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships for Ph.D. research in mathematics or systems biology; two students received National Institutes of Health Graduate Traineeships for Ph.D. studies in biostatistics. Three students won Goldwater Scholarships. Two students participated in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program; one student attended the Mathematics in Moscow program; and one student received a Prandtl internship for summer study at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Other awards include a Horatio Alger Scholarship; an Intergrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship; and numerous other local scholarships and recognitions.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS)
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Michael H. Steuerwalt
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Arizona State University
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