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This fall I am entering my sophomore year of my undergraduate, and am finally getting into some relatively advanced courses in my math and mechanical engineering curriculum. Math is where I am really ahead (compared to the offered curriculum). I will be taking two proof based classes (set theory and number theory), as well as partial differential equations and an applied linear algebra course. Math what I am most interested in (applied math, to be precise) -- far more so than ME.

My math classes are basically all junior level courses, and feel that I can finally be of some utility to a researcher (I also know java [and therefore C], python, and fortran -- as well as mathematica, and the very most basic things in matlab). The problem is that my university has a pretty small math department, and of the professors in the math department, only a handful of them are publishing new work currently. The school has about 15,000 students, but the math department is comprised of less than 15 professors, and only 5 or 6 of them are publishing -- one of whom is an applied mathematician.

My question is: a) is helping a grad student working on their PhD something that would be allowed as an alternative to researching for a proff (it does seem like it could be disallowed, because the PhD student is supposed to be creating something of their own as a prerequisite to entering academia...) and, b) would this be worth my time -- if i did find something to do for a grad student, could they even write a rec for grad school or an REU, would I be able to publish if I found something (for them) worth publishing, would I get as much out of it as from a prof, would their rec be as "valuable", etc

I want to get a taste for applied math research, but my options, it seems, are very limited..

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# Doing research for a graduate student?

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