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Undergraduate Research

undergraduate researchers working on a problem

The Mathematics Department at Virginia Tech emphasizes and features activity in undergraduate research. Numerous institutions, including the National Science Foundation, the American Mathematical Society, and the Society for Industrial & Applied Mathematics, also emphasize the importance of developing research opportunities for undergraduates. Undergraduate research experiences serve to prepare students for life after the BS degree, both in the industrial world and in graduate school.

Most undergraduate research is conducted through projects, directed by faculty members, for credit as Math 4994. Drs. Borggaard and Ufferman coordinate the undergraduate research program for Mathematics at Virginia Tech, but we encourage students to reach out to any faculty member about your potential research interests. 

In 1996 John Layman began funding an annual prize for undergraduate research in mathematics. The prize is not limited to math majors, nor honors projects. The first prize, in 1996, was for $250. The competition is called the John C. and Elsie M. Layman prize, in honor of the parents of John Layman.

You can learn more about the competition and about the 2020 participants here.

  • 2023: Robert Long
    • Title: "A Note on the Density of kth Abundancy Indices." (research advisor Dr. Lungstrum)
  • 2022: [No competition]
  • 2021: [Two winners]
    • Zachary Hoelscher: "Semicomplete Arithmetic Sequences, Division of Hypercubes, and the Pell Constant." (research advisor Dr. Palsson
    • Danny Sharp: "Fourier transforms on the Modern Computer." (research advisor Dr. Borggaard)
  • 2020: [Two winners]
    • Elizabeth Duncan: "Modeling T-cell differentiation" (research advisor Dr. Childs)
    • Sung Hyun Kim: "Approximating the Domain of Attraction for Quadratic Systems using Feedback Control." (research advisor Dr. Borggaard)
  • 2019: [No competition]
  • 2018: Arianna Krinos and Aimee Maurais
    • Title: "Parameter and Uncertainty Estimation for a Model of Atmospheric CO2 Observations via Markov Chain Monte Carlo Methods."
  • 2017: Bryan Kaperick  
    • Title: "A Block Hadamard Probing Method for Diagonal Estimation."
  • 2016: Michael Brennan
  • 2015: Blake Keeler 
  • 2014: Mark Lewers
  • 2013: Lydia Krott
  • 2012: Jackson Walters
  • 2011: Caleb Magruder
  • 2010: Ben Reid
  • 2009: Toby Shearman
  • 2007: Christopher Tompkins
  • 2006: Matthew Yancey
  • 2005: Bernard Farley
  • 2003: Praphat Fernandes
  • 2002: Steven Hair
  • 2001: Erika Roberts
  • 2000: Brian Sutton
  • 1999: No competition 
  • 1998: Neural Networks Group (Walborn, Rollek, Nguyen, Shebey, Young) 
  • 1997: Karen Potanka
  • 1996: Jason Martin

This is part of the University Honors Program and is available to Sophomores and Juniors who have GPA of 3.5 or higher. An undergraduate research project can serve as an Honors Thesis for students in the University Honors Program. The Honors Coordinator is Dr. Nick Loehr.

A number of summer programs are available, including the Science and Engineering Research Semester (SERS) program through the Department of Energy, the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics, the AT&T Laboratories Graduate Research Program for Women, the Geometry Center Summer Institute in Minneapolis and the NASA Summer Program.

Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM)

The handbook linked below provides detailed information on this prestigious competition, in which Virginia Tech teams have done very well in recent years. Outstanding Winners from the 2018 competition, Arianna Krinos and Aimee Maurais, are pictured at the top of this page.

For the Spring 2021, the Mathematics Department is excited to offer a new opportunity to prepare undergraduates for research. BEPUR: Broadening Engagement and Participation in Undergraduate Research (MATH 2984) is a new course geared towards students during or in the semester following their first proof writing class.

The aim is to help students find out about math research opportunities and prepare to get involved in more independent math research. This is done through a mix of math research skills lessons, collaborative work on three introductory research projects, and interacting with (remote) speakers giving math research talks. The math department will provide all students electronic drawing tablets to improve virtual collaboration. 

If you already have a project and advisor, get the College of Science Research form through the button below.
You will need to scroll down to 

Experiential Learning Form (Undergraduate Research/Field Study/Independent Study) +

to start the electronic form.

Additional opportunities--including fellowships, awards, and travel grants--are available throught VT's Office of Undergraduate Research.