Message from the Chair

October 2017

Dear Computer Science, Statistics, and Mathematics enthusiasts

The CUR Division of Mathematics & Computer Science has been involved in many national initiatives, including providing awards to student speakers and being instrumental in the creation of the Mathematical Association of America’s new Special Interest Group on Undergraduate Research.  Individual councilors have been further involved in renewing funding for the Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM), the Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences (PIC Math), as well as REUs and conferences.  As your new division chair, I encourage you to send me ideas and ongoing projects in which the 24 divisional members of CUR’s governing council could assist you, regardless of whether you think it should be a CUR-managed or CUR-sponsored initiative.

Last year many of you helped with judging Posters on the Hill submissions, and you may be interested to know that we were the first division of CUR to go beyond our elected councilors to form our team of reviewers.  I hope to continue this trend of greater involvement across our division in CUR events.  Next year’s CUR Biennial Meeting will take place July 1-3 in Arlington, VA, less than five miles from the National Mall with a variety of free national museums.  We have a hotel rate of $159 per night (single/double occupancy), which is valid for a few days past the conference if you want to bring your family to the national fireworks display.

At CUR conferences you will find a mix of faculty, staff, and administrators from across STEM and beyond.  Many administrators and members of other disciplines still see undergraduate researchers as employees or as volunteers to be supervised in the running of a lab, while theoreticians in mathematics and elsewhere think of their students as collaborators who need ample attention.  Our division’s councilors thus decided this summer to hold some new types of events at the 2018 Biennial.  These will include:

  • a workshop which will help us to work on projects which are more in line with how our administrators and lab science peers think that we do undergraduate research, such as through modelling projects within our domain or through statistical projects which allow us to work more closely with those in other fields.  This 3-hour modelling workshop will take place on the afternoon preceding the main Biennial conference.
  • a talk or discussion with administrators and members of other fields to discuss the difficulties that theoreticians face when trying to collaborate with undergraduates in research, and what university policies can be tweaked to support us.

I look forward to seeing many new faces at these events.  And I am eager to hear your ideas for supporting or enhancing undergraduate research, and how CUR can help.

Sincerely,

Patrick X. Rault
Chair, Mathematics & Computer Science Division of CUR
Associate Professor, University of Arizona