New REU Program to Launch in Summer 2020

Research Experiences for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation, aim to involve underrepresented students in ongoing research in meaningful ways. This latest Ursinus REU program will focus on mathematics and computer science.

The NSF awarded Ursinus $225,000 to institute the eight-week program for the next three years.

“It will allow students to do original research in mathematics and computer science,” says Nicholas Scoville, Principal Investigator for the grant, Joseph Beardwood III Chair of Mathematics and associate professor of mathematics and computer science. “But a main aspect of the program is an individual development plan for each student that will assess them not only on research, but on skills such as professionalism, integrity, ethics, teamwork, writing, presentation skills and more.”

The individual development plan (IDP) sets measurable goals and monitors progress before, during and after the eight-week program on campus.

Nine students accepted to the program will each be part of a three-member research team led by Ursinus mathematics and computer science faculty members. Each team will take on an original research project, some of which will continue for two more years, while others will be completed in a single year to allow for more diverse topics and to expose REU scholars to new faculty.

“A lot of people think that there is nothing new to do in mathematics,” Scoville says. “This opens up a whole new world to many students and exposes them to new and innovative research—research which contributes to technology and innovation.”

Ursinus students are eligible to participate and Scoville says he plans to work with local community colleges to attract students to the REU program. Ursinus students can also be involved in the REU program via Ursinus’s Summer Fellows program.

Students who participate will receive a $3,000 stipend, on-campus housing and will present their REU research at national and regional conferences.

This is the first REU program in mathematics and computer science at Ursinus since 2009-11.

“This is something I’ve really wanted to bring back,” Scoville says. “It’s about being able to push the envelope and offering opportunities for students to think tackling a problem in ways no one else has thought about. You can take those skills anywhere in any field and in any job.”