The University of Hawaii at Hilo has been awarded a share of a nearly $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant to provide undergraduate math research training and experience.
UH Hilo’s share of the five-year award entitled “Pacific Undergraduate Research Experience in Mathematics” (PURE Math) totals $707,718, while Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Texas will receive the $765,973 balance. The program, which will be housed at UH Hilo, will be administered, staffed and managed by two faculty members at each participating institution.
PURE Math is a dual-tiered, academic mentoring program that will heavily recruit undergraduates from the Pacific and underrepresented groups for a research program not usually available to those populations.
The two primary goals are to increase the number of native Pacific Islanders earning degrees and pursuing careers in the mathematical sciences, and providing valuable, lasting mentoring experiences to junior faculty who will be trained in directing undergraduate research.
Principal Investigator and UH Hilo Assistant Mathematics Professor Dr. Roberto Pelayo said the program will expand the growing infrastructure of scientific training and opportunities available at the University.
“UH Hilo is a uniquely positioned and ideal university for research in many scientific fields,” Pelayo said. “PURE Math will establish mathematics as a contributing science to our growing reputation as a hub for scholarly activity in the Pacific.”
PURE Math will consist of an Interns program and a Residents program, which will be conducted over five summers. The Interns program will be a five-week advanced mathematics workshop in which 60 lower-level undergraduates will discover topics not typically included in an undergraduate mathematics curriculum.
The Residents program will be an eight-week undergraduate research experience introducing 54 upper-level undergraduates to active fields of mathematics led by seasoned researchers.
“This program will have a lasting, positive impact on 114 STEM undergraduates interested in the mathematical sciences and several junior faculty members who wish to engage students in research,” said UH Hilo Assistant Mathematics Professor and Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Efren Ruiz. “At the same time, it will establish a network of underrepresented mathematicians at various levels in their careers, including undergraduates, graduates, junior faculty, and research mathematicians.”
PURE Math will conduct its first sessions beginning in June 2011. In its inaugural year, the program will include mathematics students from the Federated States of Micronesia and Guam.