Fairmont State University receives NSF grant to host a research experience for undergraduates

Fairmont State University has received $323,352 in grant funding from the National Science Foundation to provide an intensive undergraduate research experience in mathematics throughout the next three summers.

The project, titled Discrete and Continuous Analysis in Appalachia, will be led by Tom Cuchta, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Fairmont State, and is the first program of its kind at Fairmont State.

For eight weeks during each of the next three summers, a total of 30 undergraduate scientists will work with modern research methods and tools through various research experiences in time scales calculus. Time scales calculus is a relatively new branch of mathematics that began at the University of Würzburg in the 1988 Ph.D. thesis of German mathematician, Stefan Hilger. The theory unifies and extends many different mathematical research areas into a single theory.

In addition to gaining direct research experience, the REU participants will also develop professional, technical, presentation and written communication skills, as well as learn about career and educational opportunities beyond an undergraduate degree. Participants will live on campus in the University’s residence halls with all housing expenses paid, in addition to receiving a generous stipend for working full time as undergraduate researchers for the duration of the program.

Half of the placements in the program will be reserved for students from the Appalachian region (as designated by the Appalachian Regional Commission). Recruitment efforts will also encourage participation from students across the nation who are underrepresented in mathematics, such as rural, first-generation, low-socioeconomic, minority or female students. Additionally, students from institutions with limited research opportunities will be targeted for participation in the REU.

“I am incredibly honored to be awarded this grant,” Cuchta said. “I have been engaged with undergraduate research since I came to Fairmont State, and the REU is a natural extension of that work. This REU is an exciting opportunity to work with the next generation of talented mathematicians while also providing a unique program for Appalachia.”

The REU program at Fairmont State will be conducted by Cuchta and two other mathematics professors, Robert J. Niichel, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mathematics (Fairmont State), and Nick Wintz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mathematics (Lindenwood University). 

“This is a tremendous honor and opportunity for Fairmont State to be designated by the National Science Foundation to be a host site for undergraduate research,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “We provide transformational education to all who seek it, and we’re especially committed to educating underserved populations. This grant from the National Science Foundation will allow Appalachian students, and worthy students from across the nation, to expand their knowledge of this exciting branch of mathematics, explore math-related fields and careers and connect with new friends who are as passionate about math as they are. We are so happy to welcome these students from around the nation to our campus.” 

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