Undergraduate Research in Mathematics

We encourage students to pursue undergraduate research projects with faculty mentors.  Projects can be based around any mathematical idea or problem that interests YOU, and faculty often have a few good ideas of their own for research projects.  If you are interested in research, contact a faculty member and we'll get things started.

In the mathematics department, we view undergraduate research as a collaborative effort on a problem whose solution is unknown (even to the faculty mentor!).  Ideally, the research process involves literature review, original discoveries by the student, and ultimately, the public communication of results.

Committing to a research project is a valuable experience as it allows you to take the tools developed in class and apply them to real problems.  Research demands equal parts perseverance and creativity, but the reward of finding something new on your own is great.  Taking part in a research project is a privilege - many schools do not encourage undergraduate research the way that Shippensburg does.

General information on student research at Shippensburg is also available.

Examples of research projects in the Mathematics Department

Below are some faculty members who have conducted research projects with students.  If you see a topic that interest you, feel free to contact that faculty member about the possibility of conducting similar research.  Many research projects result in papers and/or presentations at national conferences.

  • Lance Bryant    Commutative algebra, semigroup properties
    • Ryan Long, “Apery Diagrams of Numerical Semigroups”
    • Kellie Bresz, "Quotients of Numerical Semigroups with Maximal Embedding Dimension"
  • Doug Ensley    Technology in teaching mathematics, algebra, algorithms
    • Ryan Long, “Sliding Tile Puzzles”
    • Josh Ide, “An Extension of the Google PageRank Algorithm to College Football Rankings”
  • Ben Galluzzo    Mathematical modeling
    • Brian Ettinger, Tim Adzima, Jada Williams, “Wallops Island Shoreline Change”
    • Ashley Micik-Balog, “Monitoring Shoreline Change on Wallops Island”
    • Johnathan Hocker, Samantha Feaster, Ryan Long, “PA/18 = ?”
    • Ryan Kelley, Joshua Jenkins, “Gerrymander This!”
  • Debbie Gochenaur    Mathematics education
    • Andrew Geesaman, "Bridging the Gap: High Impact Techniques for Students with Asperger's."  Andy presented his research at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference, Denver 2013 & New Orleans 2014.
    • Megan Rowson, “Research-Based Strategies to Improve the Quality of Education for Students with Learning Disabilities.” Megan presented her research at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference, Philadelphia 2012.
    • Brenna DeShong, "Becoming Teacher-Leaders: Supporting and Empowering Students with Learning Disabilities."  Brenna presented her research at the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics Conference, New Orleans 2014.
    • Linzy Hull, "Around the world: How eight countries have progressed in serving students with disabilities". Linzy presented her research at the West Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference, 2014. 
    • Nicholas McGarrell, "Effective MLD teaching methods of secondary teachers in South Korea"
    • Logan Kauffman, "Reaching the back of the room: PreService teachers' understanding of voice health"
  • Lenny Jones    Number theory, algebra
    • Joshua Harrington, "On the Iteration of a Fucntion Related to Euler's Phi-Function."  Work published in the journal INTEGERS.
    • Josh Ide, “Enumerating Invariant Subspaces of Rn
    • Dan White, “Appending Digits to Generate an Infinite Sequence of Composite Numbers.”  Paper appears in The Journal of Integer Sequences.
    • Maria Elena Markovich, "Generating Composites by Appending Digits to Certain Types of Integer." Maria presented her research at the Joint Mathematics Meetings 2013 in San Diego, CA in the AMS special session on Coverings of the Integers. 
    • Alicia Lamarche, "Representing Integers as the Sum of Two Squares in the Ring Zn"
    • Kellie Bresz, Alicia Lamarche, and Maria Markovich, "Extending a Theorem of Sierpinski to Powers of 2 Plus a Fibonacci Number"
  • Luis Melara    Applied mathematics
    • Blake Burkett, “A Mathematical Approach to the Cavendish Banana”
  • Marc Renault    Number theory, combinatorics, the Fibonacci sequence
    • Rebekkah Stanko, "The Generalized Game of 21"
    • Josh Ide, “Power Fibonacci Sequences.” Joint paper produced, and published in the Fibonacci Quarterly.
    • Josh Updike and Patrick Flanagan, "Symmetries of Fibonacci Points, Modulo M".  This resulted in a paper that appears in the Fibonacci Quarterly.
    • Alex Dishong, "Calculating the Moduli that Produce a Given Period of the Fibonacci Sequence"

Research funding

  • Undergraduate Research Grants - At the beginning of the fall semester, a call goes out for students to apply for research funding. Each student (or student group) that applies must have a faculty sponsor, and grant funding can cover expenses like travel to conferences and poster printing. Applications are due at the beginning of October.
  • SFRE Grants - Faculty in the College of Arts and science can apply for these grants at the end of each semester.  Funds from these grants can be used to support student research, so make sure your faculty mentor is aware of these grants.
  • SURE Grants (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) - Near the start of the spring semester, a call goes out for faculty/student research pairs to apply for SURE grants.  These grants will pay students $750 over the summer to conduct research with a faculty member.  Free, on-campus housing is available to students in the SURE program.  The deadline is in mid-March.
  • The Math Department Research Fund - The math department maintains a small amount of money to help with expenses like regional conference registration and poster printing, if not already covered by an undergraduate research grant.  Talk to your research mentor or the math department chair to request these funds.
  • The Dean's Office - If you have a large expense (like airfare to a national conference) that is not covered by an undergraduate research grant, the Office of the Dean might be able to help. Talk to your research mentor about applying for funding from the Dean.

Conferences where undergraduates can present

  • Minds@Work Conference - Here at Ship, this takes place near the end of April each year. Registration opens near the beginning of the spring semester.
  • EPaDel - This is the local regional meeting of the MAA. There is a fall meeting and a spring meeting.
  • PCTM - The PA Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Yearly conference in the fall semester.
  • NCTM - The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Yearly conference in April.
  • MathFest - The annual national meeting of the MAA. This takes place at the beginning of August each year.
  • The Joint Mathematics Meetings - The largest annual mathematics conference in the world! Each year we have several faculty attend this meeting. Occurs in January, before classes resume.
  • The SIAM Annual Meeting - The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Yearly national meeting in July. There is also an annual student conference for the mid-Atlantic region.
  • NIMBioS - An annual undergraduate research conference at the interface of biology and mathematics.  Runs each fall.

Creating a poster

Some conferences may ask you to make a poster to display the results of your research. Here's some good advice about making posters. Your advisor can give you some poster templates suitable for math posters.

Journals that publish undergraduate research