This project aims to bring nine students per summer to The University of Texas at Tyler for a memorable research experience for undergraduates. Students will work closely with three faculty members on projects in knot theory, tiling theory, and combinatorics on words that have been carefully chosen to be both accessible and significant. As part of the program, the students will write a research paper containing their results and give an oral presentation which will enhance their communication skills. The research experience will be complemented by several organized outings and social activities to encourage peer networking and bonding.
The three faculty mentors are all first-generation college students, including one female American Indian; they all had an undergraduate research experience that shaped their lives and careers and have taken nationally recognized courses in undergraduate pedagogy to pass that legacy on. It is intended that this summer program will show students that mathematical research can be both fun and interesting, with the hope that this experience paves the way to graduate studies. This proposal aims to recruit students from underrepresented groups; in particular, American Indians, women, and first generation college students.
The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site at the University of Texas at Tyler successfully completed its first 3 year period of NSF support. Over 3 summers the REU brought 27 undergraduate students to Tyler to participate in faculty mentored research. In addition to working daily with their research mentors, the students learned mathematical typesetting, attended talks about graduate school and mathematical research methods, wrote daily mathematical journals, and prepared conference posters. Each group presented a poster at the Undergraduate Poster Session of the Joint Mathematics Meetings. Student researchers worked in Knot Theory, Tiling Theory, and Graph Theory. The research has led to two publications in professional mathematics journals, a publication in a well known undergraduate research journal, and other submitted papers that are still under review. The long term goal of the UT Tyler Mathematics REU site is to increase the participation of underrepresented groups, especially American Indians, Hispanics, women and first-generation college students, in mathematical research and graduate training. The goal of recruiting at least two-thirds of REU participants from underrepresented groups was set. The REU at UT Tyler met this goal: 70% of participants came from such groups. Another goal was that at least half of REU participants would pursue a graduate degree. This goal was also met: 65% of participants who have completed their undergraduate degrees have enrolled in a graduate program.