Undergraduate Math Research: Where to Start?

In summary, the person is interested in getting involved in research as an undergraduate, but is unsure of where to start. They do not meet the qualifications for REU programs in their area, and there is limited information on how to begin research. Their interests include linear algebra/matrix theory, number theory, applied mathematics, and graph theory. The suggestion is to talk to professors in these fields and ask if they know of any research opportunities. The person has already tried research in graph theory but did not find it enjoyable. They also mention not meeting the GPA requirement for REU programs in their area, but are planning to ask professors for potential research opportunities.
  • #1
I'm interested in getting involved with some research while I'm still an undergrad and don't quite know where to start. I don't meet qualifications for REU programs in my area and literature on where to start is scarce.

As for field of interest I'm interested in linear algebra/matrix theory, number theory, applied mathematics and recently graph theory.

Any suggestions on how to get started?
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  • #2
Talk to a professor and ask him/her if you can do research.
  • #3
What do you mean you don't meet the qualifications for an REU?

Regardless, assuming you've taken courses in the subject, ask the professors of the subject if they know anyone who is taking on students for research. I did research in graph theory for about a semester before I realized I'd rather claw my eyes out. Some find it interesting though.
  • #4
samnorris93 said:
What do you mean you don't meet the qualifications for an REU?

The ones in my area have a higher GPA requirement than what I have at this time. My university has an RTG for undergraduates but I haven't seen any activity from them in a year and a half. There are a couple professors I'm getting ready to ask to see if anything can happen.
  • #5

First of all, it's great that you are interested in getting involved with research as an undergraduate student. This will not only enhance your academic experience but also give you a valuable opportunity to explore your interests and develop your skills as a scientist.

Since you mentioned that you do not meet the qualifications for REU programs in your area, one option could be to reach out to your professors or other researchers in your department and express your interest in conducting research. They may have ongoing projects that you could contribute to or they could guide you in finding a suitable research topic within your areas of interest.

Another option could be to look for research opportunities outside of your university. Many universities and research institutions offer summer research programs for undergraduate students, so you could explore those options and see if any of them align with your interests.

In addition, you could also consider reaching out to graduate students or postdoctoral researchers who are working in your areas of interest and inquire about potential research opportunities or mentorship. They may be able to offer valuable guidance and support in getting started with research.

Lastly, do not underestimate the power of self-study and self-directed research. You can start by reading articles and papers in your areas of interest, attending seminars and talks, and even trying to replicate existing studies or experiments. This will not only deepen your understanding of the subject but also give you a taste of what research entails.

Overall, the key is to be proactive and persistent in seeking out research opportunities and resources. It may require some effort and patience, but the rewards of conducting research as an undergraduate student are well worth it. Good luck!

1. What is undergraduate math research?

Undergraduate math research involves conducting original mathematical investigations and experiments under the guidance of a faculty mentor. It allows students to delve deeper into a specific area of mathematics and gain valuable research skills.

2. How do I know if I am ready for undergraduate math research?

If you have a strong foundation in math and a passion for exploring new ideas and solving problems, you are likely ready for undergraduate math research. It is also helpful to have completed some upper-level math courses and have a good understanding of mathematical notation and proofs.

3. What are some good starting points for undergraduate math research?

Some good starting points for undergraduate math research include talking to professors in your math department, attending research seminars and conferences, and reading current research papers in your area of interest. You can also join a math research group or participate in a summer research program.

4. How do I choose a research topic?

Choosing a research topic can be intimidating, but it is important to find a topic that interests you and aligns with your strengths and goals. Consider talking to your professors, reading articles and books, and exploring different areas of mathematics to find a topic that you are passionate about.

5. What are some tips for successfully conducting undergraduate math research?

Some tips for successfully conducting undergraduate math research include setting realistic goals, keeping organized and detailed notes, seeking guidance from your mentor and peers, and being persistent and open to new ideas. It is also important to have good time management skills and to communicate effectively with your mentor and others involved in your research.