CU-Boulder Receives $1.3 Million Grant For Undergraduate Research In Applied Math

October 11, 2006

The Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Colorado at Boulder has been awarded a major grant by the National Science Foundation to provide early research experiences for undergraduate students in the department.

The Mentoring through Critical Transitions Program, or MCTP, grant will provide $1.3 million over the next five years, supporting approximately 15 to 20 undergraduates with stipends of up to $6,500 per year.

"Experiences in the department over the past decade strongly support the proposition that undergraduate research projects early in the careers of students can be life changing," said Anne Dougherty, associate department chair. "Students learn that they can make unique and original contributions to the mathematical sciences, and many are motivated to continue their education by taking more challenging courses and continuing on to graduate school. As a consequence, CU-Boulder applied math alumni can be found in some of the most prestigious graduate programs in the country."

The department previously funded undergraduate research experiences through an NSF Vertical Integration of Research and Education grant, which ended last spring.

The focus of the department's new "MCTP: Colorado Advantage" program will be on mentoring students through the transition from "good student" to independent learner and researcher, Dougherty said. Students will be recruited as freshmen through honors seminars. Later, as sophomores and juniors they will be invited to join small research seminars that are led by faculty and advanced graduate students. They may then choose to continue their own research projects alone or in small groups.

The students will be mentored throughout their entire academic program by graduate students and faculty, who also will receive some support from the grant.

The grant is headed by professor and department chair James Curry with Anne Dougherty, Keith Julien, James Meiss and Harvey Segur serving as co-investigators. All have extensive experience working with undergraduates, both in the classroom and on individual research projects.

The CU-Boulder Department of Applied Mathematics offers a bachelor of science degree and a minor in applied math to students in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as master's and doctoral degrees through the Graduate School. For more information, visit