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IMA Special Program
IMA Interdisciplinary Research Experience for Undergraduates
June 29-July 31, 2009

Daniel E. Flath Mathematics and Computer Science, Macalester College
Fadil Santosa Institute for Mathematics and its Applications

The IMA summer REU gives students an experience in working on an interdisciplinary project involving mathematics. Students will work in teams of three with a faculty advisor and a postdoctoral mentor. This is a hands-on experience. There will be a few formal lectures. However, students will spend most of their time doing actual research. Students are expected to produce a poster and a publication-quality written report, and to give an oral presentation by the end of the 5-week period.

Description of projects:

  1. Objective structures – We will investigate naturally occurring discrete structures more general than crystals. The focus will be on self-assembling structures such as those observed in the tail sheaths of some viruses. Part of the project will consist of computer aided visualization of the structures. Objective structures team webpage
  2. Modeling solar cells – Polymer solar cells are laminated structures that convert photons into electron-hole pairs by dissociation. Current is then created by diffusion of the holes and electrons We will study the propagation of light in solar cells and model how excitons generated by light dissociate into electron-hole pairs which are collected at the electrodes. Performance of solar cells will be simulated by solving differential equations. Solar team webpage
  3. Data analysis – The problem of clustering is ubiquitous in the analysis of data, however, determining the number of existing clusters is not an obvious question (and sometimes not well-defined). We will review the many strategies for addressing this question and carefully compare them on artificial and real data, while explaining their successes and failures. We will try to suggest a combined strategy based on the findings of the comparative study.

    Data clustering team webpage

Reading and supporting material will be provided to successful applicants prior to the start of the program.

Application: [Application deadline has passed]

Stipend and allowance:

$3,500 stipend, campus housing and meals, travel allowance of up to $300. Participants also have a $300 allowance for travel to a national meeting during the 2009-2010 academic year to present results of their REU work.


Must be full-time undergraduate mathematics major and must devote full time to the program and may not engage in other course work or employment during the 5 week period.


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