Undergraduate Research Assistantship

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Undergraduate Research Assistantship

Why undergraduate research?

Undergraduate Research Assistants (URAs) explore areas of mathematics that are not typically taught in a classroom setting while also refining their communication skills. Students that participate in undergraduate research gain...

  • upper division credit
  • resume worth experience
  • strong letters of recommendation
  • better preparation for graduate-level research
  • invitations to travel to conference like SUnMaRC
  • the opportunity to win prizes at conferences like the UA Student Showcase
  • the opportunity to publish research in scholarly journals

...and much more!

For questions please email program coordinator Sergey Cherkis.

How do I get involved? 

Follow the steps below!

Step 1: Learn about undergraduate research. 

The following is a list of ways students can learn about undergraduate research opportunities.

  • Students can also talk to an Undergraduate Research Ambassador. URAs can help you find individual research opportunities or research-based classes to help you build critical skills. They can also present research opportunities to your class, group, or club.
  • Enroll in DATA/MATH 395M - Career Exploration in Mathematics and Data Science
  • If you have a particular project in mind but don’t know which faculty member(s) to approach with the idea, the URA Program Coordinator will be glad to help you locate an appropriate faculty member, and the friendly advisors in the Math Center will be equally happy to assist you.

Step 2: Start thinking about project ideas.

This list is not exhaustive - If a project has not been been updated in a long time, check a professor's homepage to see what they've been working on most recently. 

Name Research Area(s) Prerequisites Honors Thesis? * URA for Credit? URA for Pay? ** Last Updated
Adi Adiredja Mathematics education; teacher noticing; equitable teaching practices; community learning; the teaching and learning of linear algebra; socio-politics of mathematics education in Indonesia Interest and awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusivity; Interest in issues related to the teaching and learning of mathematics; Math 313, specific for the linear algebra project; Proficiency in Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia), specific for the Indonesian narrative project. Yes  Yes Ask 10/3/2023
Moysey Brio Numerical Simulation of Waves in Optics, fluids and solids. introductory numerical analysis, basic physics/optics and computer programming. Yes Yes No 9/7/2021
Rossana Capuani Multiagent systems
Mean Field Games and control theory
PDEs in connection with Mean field games
Optimal control Theory
Optimal Transportation
Traffic problems in operations research
 Math 254, Math 335, Math 454, Yes Yes No 10/3/2023
Ibrahim Fatkullin statistical mechanics, artificial intelligence, computer graphics  ability to program Yes Yes No 8/16/2022
Karl Glasner Pattern formation on graphs. ODEs, Linear Algebra, experience with MATLAB. Ideally one or more of: Graph Theory (math 443), Dynamical Systems (math454), PDEs (math456), Numerical Methods (math475) Yes Yes Ask 1/17/2017
Karl Glasner Dynamics of self assembly at the nanoscale. ODEs, some experience with MATLAB. Ideally one or more of: Dynamical Systems (math454), PDEs (math456), Numerical Methods (math475). Yes Yes Ask 1/17/2017
David Glickenstein Developing computer software to visualize abstract geometries and polyhedral geometries (like the dodecahedron). Study of differential equations that deform arbitrary embeddings of graphs into "nice" embeddings for graphs. Basic linear algebra, differential equations. Topology can be a plus, but not necessary. General mathematical sophistication. Some computer science/programming background is a plus. Yes Yes Yes 9/17/2012
Doug Haessig Mainly number theory, although I have worked with undergrads on a variety of topics outside of number theory. None Yes Yes No 8/25/22
Christopher Henderson Analysis of partial differential equations (PDE) and/or ordinary differential equations related to PDE  Math 313, Math 355, perhaps a bit of coding, Math 425 is a plus Yes Yes Ask 8/16/2022
Yi Hu Geometry:  Study the space of three and four point configurations on the (projective) plane. good command of Linear Algebra Yes Yes Ask 1/3/2017
Tom Kennedy  Self-avoiding random walks.  Math 464. Some programming experience would be helpful, but not required. Yes Yes Yes 12/2/2018
Kevin Lin Nonlinear dynamics; Monte Carlo methods; machine learning. Minimum prerequisites are the calculus sequence, linear algebra (313), and differential equations (254 or 355). Some probability (363 or higher) a bonus, and 464 and/or 454 would be great but not required. Programming ability or willingness to learn by doing a must. Yes  Yes Maybe 9/2/2021
Klaus Lux Computational Group Theory;
Computer Algebra
413 Linear Algebra or
415A Abstract Algebra
Yes Yes Maybe 9/18/2012
Joanna Masel evolutionary theory; bioinformatic studies of protein evolution or molecular error rates  Some programming experience required (C and/or Python preferred). Knowledge of probability & statistics, and/or biology preferred but not required. Yes Yes Ask  10/3/2023
Douglas Pickrell Power series identities; conformal mappings; random self-avoiding loops and random surfaces Linear algebra, complex variables, and basic probability, respectively Yes Yes No 10/3/2023
Walter Piegorsch Statistical inference; Quantitative risk analysis MATH 466; DATA 467 Yes Yes No 9/2/2021
Henry Scharf Bayesian hierarchical models; ecological applications of statistics; data visualization DATA 375 or strong experience with R; MATH 464 and 466; DATA 467 is helpful Yes Yes Yes 12/04/2023
Patrick Shipman topological data analysis; applied modeling and differential equations in (bio)chemistry and physics with the option to do experimental laboratory work with plant pigments; complex variables and differential geometry; continued fraction expansions and projective geometry; pattern formation  Varied requirements depending on the project, so please contact me if interested in a topic. Yes Yes  No 10/3/2023
Robert Sims (sabbatical 2023-24 - not available) Mathematical Physics. Linear Algebra and Differential Equations Yes Yes No 8/16/2022
Doug Ulmer Number theory, algebraic geometry, possibly cryptography.  Abstract algebra required. Some geometry and/or complex analysis would be helpful. Yes Yes Yes 9/2/2021
Shankar Venkataramani Differential equations and modeling physical phenomena;
Geometry and applications; Problems in Complex analysis
Math 254/Math 355 (for Differential equations);
Math 323 (for all the problems); MATH 425 (for Complex analysis).
Yes Yes Yes 9/12/2014
Pan Yan Number Theory; Representation Theory linear algebra (Math 413) and abstract algebra (Math 415A) Yes Yes Ask 10/3/2023
Hang Xue Number Theory, Representation Theory solid background in linear algebra and abstract algebra Yes Yes No 8/16/2022
Helen Zhang Statistics, Machine Learning MATH 466, DATA 467 Yes Yes No 11/30/2023

*Honors Thesis MATH 498H credit available to students in the Honors College.

**Restrictions may apply. Ask the individual faculty member for details.

Step 3: Find a faculty mentor. 

There are several ways to go about this. You may have already found a faculty member to reach out to via the list of projects under Step 2, but if not, here's what you can do.

  • The University of Arizona Undergraduate Research website provides information on faculty looking to work with undergraduate students.
  • Have a favorite professor? Ask him/her about their area of research. If it sounds interesting, find out if there might be a way for you to participate.
  • If you already have one or more faculty members in mind but are unsure if they're taking on undergraduate researchers or you aren't particularly interested in their current research, simpy approach the faculty member(s) to discuss possibilities.
  • If you have a particular project in mind but don’t know which faculty member(s) to approach with the idea, the URA Program Coordinator will be glad to help you locate an appropriate faculty member, and the friendly advisors in the Math Center will be equally happy to assist you.

Step 4: Setting up your project.

There are a lot of ways to contact potential faculty mentors. Unless you know the faculty member, email is usually best. If you are sending emails to faculty to inquire about research opportunities, make sure you demonstrate in your email that you have looked at the professor's web page and have interest in their specific research area. If you haven't bothered to do any research on their work, they will not take your inquiry seriously. For additional advice and email templates, check out the UA Undergraduate Research website. There are also some good guidelines and examples here.  

Step 5:  Earning Credit

If you will be earning credit for your URA experience, you will need to register through the math department Academic Office (Mathematics Building Room 108); there is a special form needed. The form requires a description of the work to be done, and signatures from your project advisor and major advisor.  If your faculty mentor has funding to pay you, he/she will work with our Business Office to help you set this up.

Step 6: Optional

Honors College students are eligible to apply for grant funding (up to $1500) to pay for their time spent on independent research through the Spirit of Inquiry Research Program.

Smaller grants may be available through the Graduate College for undergraduate students. Learn more on their website.


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