The Public Honors College

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National Science Foundation Awards SMCM Math Department a Grant for Summer Research

Stems from Success of Existing Student Research Program
May 26, 2010
Press Release #10-065

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The mathematics and computer science department at St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) was awarded a $265,000 grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).  The Emerging Scholars REU will bring talented underrepresented mathematics undergraduates from across the country to St. Mary's College to give them research opportunities that will help them succeed in mathematics classes and prepare them for degrees in mathematics or other science fields. 

The six-week summer program will be held at SMCM starting in 2011 for three years and aims to promote minority student enrollment and success in math classes, the math major, and graduate school in mathematics and math-related fields.  The program will host 12 students, from SMCM and around the country, who have excelled in the first two semesters of calculus.  Participants will attend morning seminars, with professor Susan Goldstine, that prepare them for proof-based advanced mathematics courses. Their afternoons will be spent examining research questions in game theory, knot theory, and graph theory, led by professors Alex Meadows, Sandy Ganzell, and Alan Jamieson.  They will also attend seminars and sessions on scientific writing, presenting, and applying to graduate school.

The project stems from the success of the department's Emerging Scholars Program and an existing summer research experience already funded by the NSF that has been held at St. Mary's College for the past five summers.  Many of the underrepresented students that have participated in these programs have furthered their studies in mathematics.  "Of the 19 students we've worked with during the summer, nine have gone on to major in mathematics or computer science, and seven others have completed mathematics minors," said David Kung, associate professor of mathematics and department chair.  "Without these programs, historical and national trends suggest that only a couple of these students would have successfully completed calculus and at most one would have completed a mathematics degree. We're incredibly proud of our students' record of success and our faculty's ability to provide an environment in which students excel."

St. Mary's College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger's, and The Princeton Review. Founded in 1840 as Maryland's "monument school" commemorating the state's first capital, SMCM is the state's only public honors college.

More than 2,000 students attend the college, which has the highest graduation rate for all Maryland public colleges and universities.  The school's waterfront campus along the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland is home to a faculty that has won twice as many Fulbright Awards as the average of its peer institutions which include Bates, Franklin & Marshal and Connecticut College.