Philosophy and Structure of Activities
Our program is designed to involve participants in meaningful and significant ways in the current research of the directors, while providing maximum opportunity for independent development.
During the first week of the program, students attend short lecture series by Hoffman on algebra and its geometric aspects, Stoltzfus on aspects of braid and knot theory and Morales on number theory. These talks introduced students swiftly and efficiently to problems of immediate current importance in the directors' work. By the end of the first week, each participant had chosen a focus and prepared a research proposal. In the second week, participants presented their proposals as 10 minute seminar talks. Participants work on their projects in collaboration with their mentor during the middle weeks, and present summaries of their summer work at the end of the seventh. The last week is devoted to the preparation of a final written report of results.
Students, graduate assistants and professorial mentors all meet regularly with one another on a regular basis throughout the summer. Daily afternoon tea-and-cookies is a popular activity which all the students, program directors and interested (or hungry) members of the LSU mathematics department attend regularly. This provides a relaxed informal setting for discussion of ongoing mathematical work. Additional meetings are scheduled according to students' needs and advisers' judgment. Some students meet for extended periods several times a week for the duration of the program, while others meet only occasionally. The attention that each received is geared to his or her own personal work style.
The directors and participants organize outings, sports and other special activities on weekends. In the past, this has included a Saturday in New Orleans, picnics, biking and hiking through the Louisiana countryside, and visits to popular local restaurants and dance halls.
The directors encourage continuing contact with past participants. Previous participants have presented their work at the Special Session on Undergraduate Research at regional and national meetings of the American Mathematical Society as well as other conferences devoted to undergraduate participation in research mathematics.
The LSU Mathematics REU started in 1993, with funding from the Louisiana Educational Quality Support Fund. In 1994, additional funding from the National Science Foundation was obtained. The program was initially founded and administered by Dr. James Madden and Dr. Neal Stoltzfus, both permanent members of the LSU Mathematics faculty. Dr. Madden is an active researcher in the field of real algebraic geometry, and Dr. Stoltzfus in knot theory. Dr. Robert Perlis, also at LSU (number theory), joined the program for the summer of 1994 and Dr. William Hoffman (algebraic geometry) joined the program in 1999 (replacing Dr. Madden). In 2010, Prof. Morales joined the program.