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REU Spotlight on Georgia Tech by Emily Zhang

The mathematics REU program at the Georgia Institute of Technology is an eight-week research program for undergraduates. It is a pretty big program, usually with around 30 students and 10 mentors who are Georgia Tech professors. Undergraduate students are admitted into specific research groups, each led by a mentor or pair of mentors, with 1 to 6 students per group. The groups have different research focuses, such as braids, dynamical systems, optimization algorithms, and many other topics. Students in the program usually spend the most time with the other students in their groups, and the dynamics of every group is very different. Some groups meet up every morning to solve problems together while my group broke up into pairs in the first week and we met as a group once a week for the rest of the summer to touch bases. The direction and style of the research also heavily depends on the mentor and group.

Most of the students lived on campus in the North Avenue East Apartments during the program, and some students opted for cheaper options that were a bit farther from campus. I roomed with three other girls from the REU, and I really enjoyed getting a chance to become closer to some of the students that were not in my group. On weekends, small groups of students would meet up and take the Stinger Bus to Atlantic Station, a commercial area that we often went to for groceries and dining. The apartments were around a ten-minute walk from the math department, where we met with our mentors and had classes and talks. There is a student center right across from the math department with very nice classrooms and meeting rooms; this is where most students spent most of their time on workdays.

There were some weekly activities that involved all of the REU students. Every week, we had a Teatime, where we would chat with all of the students and mentors over some tea and cookies. We also went out for dinner together on Fridays, and sometimes a few mentors would show up to these dinners as well. Additionally, one mentor offered to teach us algebraic geometry basics twice a week and there were also some weekly afternoon talks that we all attended. Towards the end of the program, there was a panel discussion on graduate school and fellowship applications, which I found to be very informative.

The program concluded with a poster session, where all of the students got a chance to talk to each other about their work. Additionally, many students from this REU attended the Young Mathematicians Conference at the Ohio State University in late-August of that same summer. There, some of us gave poster presentations and some of us gave talks on our work at Georgia Tech. It was great to see my friends from the REU again and also learn about math that other undergraduates have been doing.

Learn more about Georgia Tech's Mathematics REU Program here: