Message from the Chair

I left the 2015 Annual Business Meeting more convinced than ever that the future of the Math/CS Division of CUR is strong. I’m excited to be able to chair a division represented by such talented and hard-working Councilors.

This website provides a great summary of much of the work that the division is doing, and I don’t need to repeat it here. Instead, I’d like to use this – my first “Chair’s Message” to look to the future.

No one doubts that undergraduate research has come a very long way in the last 20 years. If a faculty member from 1995 could survey today’s landscape – full of REU’s, Regional Undergraduate Research Conferences, and funded summer programs at thousands of universities – I suspect they would be amazed. Even better, few disciplines have embraced Undergraduate Research as deeply as Mathematics. Undergraduate students and their work feature prominently at the national meetings of the Mathematical Association of America, and form an important component of many regional meetings of our mathematics, statistics, and computer science organizations.

Given this, our counterfactual visitor from 1995 might be excused for believing that the work was done, that the state of undergraduate research in mathematics and computer science was as strong as we could hope, and that we can now enjoy the fruit of our labor.

Our important task in the next twenty years is to ensure that we do not fall into the trap.

As Jan Rychtář (our new Vice Chair) reminded me this summer, there are still professional mathematicians who claim that it’s not possible to do research with undergraduates. And not only are there math majors graduating from schools across the country who haven’t participated in a authentic research experience, but there are those who have never been given the opportunity.

Even though the evidence of the benefits to students who participate in undergrad research grows each year, these gaps remain. Although we have done well, we can and we must do still better.

The Councilors of our division have begun an ambitious program to continue to strengthen undergraduate research in mathematics and computer science. One of our top priorities is to bring our disciplines and CUR closer together. CUR has a lot to offer the worlds of mathematics and computer science, but many people in these fields know very little about the organization.

First steps were taken by Patrick Rault and Allison Henrich this August. These two talented teachers have three things in common. They are both winners of MAA’s Alder Award this year, they both serve as CUR Councilors, and they both used their Alder Award talk at MathFest to highlight the work of CUR!

At the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January, we will continue what they have begun with a booth at the exhibit hall (stop by and see us!). Over the next two years, individuals will be working to take the best of CUR’s resources and practices, and make the accessible to the Math and CS communities. Tell your friends who are interested in undergraduate research that there has never been a better time to join CUR!

We are launching many other new programs as well. This website will help to share the good work of our division with all of its members, and I hope it will encourage more people to become active in the division’s projects! We have started discussions about ways to promote research in Math, Stats, and CS at the high school level, and we are looking to enhance our relationship with the professional organizations in all of these fields. We’ll keep you informed as we make progress in these areas, and as we take on new projects and goals.

If you have questions about our division, or if you’d like to join us in our work, please contact me at any time!

Dominic Klyve, Central Washington University
MCS CUR Division Chair