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NSF-Funded Programs Offer Research Opportunities to External Undergraduate Students

Students pose in front the Dabney Hall sign at NC State.

With more than 370 active research projects and $40 million in annual research expenditures, the College of Sciences brings together students and award-winning faculty to solve real-world problems. Through Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the college extends the opportunity to undergraduate students outside of NC State.

The college has three REU programs — Computational and Data Science in Astrophysics (CDSA), Directed Research for Undergraduates in Math and Statistics (DRUMS), and the Integrated Computational and Experimental (ICE) program in the Department of Chemistry. Selected students participate in a 10-week program at NC State over the summer, working alongside faculty and other researchers on a specific research project. The program concludes with a campuswide undergraduate research symposium where students present their work.

CDSA is designed to introduce students to computational physics and data science through original research projects in astrophysics. Students will receive training in all aspects of independent research through classroom instruction, hands-on exercises, small group discussions and activities with other programs on campus. Applicants should have completed at least two semesters of introductory calculus-based physics, but previous experience in computer programming is not required. The application deadline for the summer 2022 program is Feb. 15.

In DRUMS, students will have the opportunity to work on projects such as studying the mathematical foundations of machine learning algorithms, statistical methods for precision medicine and optimal control of navigation systems. Participants will also develop auxiliary skills such as mathematical programming and technical writing, while also learning how to prepare scientific presentations. Students from all backgrounds, including those with nontraditional mathematical or statistical training, are encouraged to apply. The deadline is Feb. 15.

“Students gain experience with interdisciplinary research aimed to solve real-world problems using mathematical, statistical and computational tools. They also receive career guidance and training on communication and research skills, and have the opportunity to present their work at a national mathematics conference,” said Brian Reich, co-director of DRUMS and Gertrude M. Cox Distinguished Professor in the Department of Statistics at NC State.

“Through this experience they develop technical and soft skills that prepare them for graduate school and eventually successful careers in STEM.”

The ICE program will allow students to work on research topics that combine experimental techniques and computational methods. Students will also participate in training workshops and seminars, while gaining valuable communication experience. Rising sophomores and juniors are encouraged to apply. The deadline is March 1.

“In 2014 we introduced the computational component to this REU site and have been successful in: (1) providing students from primarily undergraduate institutions with an opportunity to perform chemical research at a research-intensive university; (2) assisting students in career and academic decisions and (3) providing students from underrepresented groups (persons of color, women and first generation college students) with research opportunities,” said Elon Ison, principal investigator for ICE and associate professor in the Department of Chemistry.

This post was originally published in College of Sciences News.