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National Science Foundation Awards $473,000 to CWU for Summer Student Math Research

Central Washington University will host 13 undergraduate students from across the Pacific Northwest this summer for eight-and-a-half weeks of specialized mathematics research.

The “Central Convergence Research Experience for Undergraduates” program, managed by CWU Mathematics professors Brandy Wiegers and Sooie-Hoe Loke, will be funded by a $473,353, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“It’s less traditional for public institutions that serve primarily undergraduate students to get grants like this,” said Wiegers, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. “But we were able to successfully make the argument that we have the skill set to be able to support students and provide them with an opportunity to develop their research skills. We will likely be one of the only mathematical REUs (research experience for undergraduates) in the Pacific Northwest this year.”

Professor Wiegers in classroom with studentsWiegers explained that the goal of the REU is not to fund only students from a particular college or university; the NSF grant program is designed to benefit all students.

“We’re looking for a well-rounded group who are interested in the work we’ll be doing and are interested in math as a career—those who want to take the next step toward becoming a professional mathematician,” Wiegers explained.

The students who are selected will participate in one of three research projects. Wiegers’ project will be using math to explain biological processes; Loke will lead a study involving actuarial research; and CWU math professor Aaron Montgomery will be researching polyominoes and mathematical tilings.

“We will train the students in the different types of math we will be using,” Wiegers noted. “Our goal is for them to develop problem-solving skills and understand what to do to even get started when approaching a type of problem they’ve never seen before.”

The application process, open to CWU students and their peers across the Pacific Northwest, begins this month. Recruiting will focus on students who are traditionally underrepresented in the field of mathematics, Wiegers said.

Over the summer, students selected for the program will do the research and participate in the Office of Undergraduate Research GRAD CAMP professional development program. Through this work, participating research students will have a chance to learn about and prepare for professional opportunities after they graduate, Wiegers added.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,

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