Giansiracusa Wins Dean's Medal
REU Program at the University of Washington
The National Science Foundation supports Research Experiences for Undergraduates in various disciplines at selected universities. Readers of this newsletter are probably familiar with the fact that the University of Washington Mathematics Department has had an REU site since 1988, initiated by Ed Curtis and Jim Morrow, and directed for the past few years by Jim Morrow. Each year, undergraduates from universities throughout the United States apply for the program, and eight are selected to participate. They receive a stipend from the NSF REU grant to support an eight-week stay during the summer, in which they participate in research projects under the direction of Professor Morrow.
The students study the general area of ``inverse problems for electrical networks.'' After a week of lectures and reading, students start to work on projects. They make interim oral reports and write a research paper about their project. Some of these papers eventually get published in professional journals and presented at national meetings. In addition to daily one-on-one sessions with faculty and assistants, students in the program engage in some planned social activities, including picnics, swimming parties, softball and frisbee games with the Physics REU, plays, and two trips to Mariners' games.
In the summers of 2002 and 2003, the NSF VIGRE grant supplied additional support for the program. In 2003 the VIGRE grant supported REU alumni Ernie Esser, Sam Coskey, and Jeff Giansiracusa as TAs for the program. The VIGRE grant also supported three additional undergraduate student participants, making eleven altogether. These additions made for an exceptional program. For example, the TAs created a new website, which contains descriptions of the program, photos of the participants, and an archive of papers written by REU students, some dating back to 1988. This website will serve as a valuable resource for future participants and for anyone interested in discrete inverse problems.
The students in this program are always very strong. In the summer of 2003, students came from the University of Washington, Stanford University, the University of Alaska, Cornell University, the University of California at Berkeley, Utah State University, Gonzaga University, and Tufts University. There were three UW students in the program, in addition to the student assistants. The three TAs and one of the student participants were members of two winning Mathematical Contest in Modeling teams - see this article.