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UW Math Department Receives Grant to Enrich Doctoral Program

March 8, 2016

The University of Wyoming Department of Mathematics is cooperating with Colorado School of Mines on a three-year project to enhance the education of doctoral students.

UW received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund FRAMEWORK -- Front Range Applied Mathematics Exchanges and Workshops. The math department will partner with Mines’ Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, which received a parallel grant.

The two institutions will share doctoral student preparation, course delivery, summer workshops and research collaborations leading to dissertations. Special attention will be given to the two departments’ overlapping research expertise in three areas: uncertainty quantification, mathematical biology and underground fluid mechanics.

UW mathematics professors Gregory Lyng and Myron Allen will coordinate UW’s side of the project, while Mines professors Steven Pankavich and Barbara Moskal will organize their institution’s side.

According to a 2013 report of the National Research Council, more mathematicians need to be broadly knowledgeable; to communicate well with researchers in other disciplines; to understand the role of mathematics in the wider STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) world; and to possess skills that include computation. FRAMEWORK will meet these challenges by expanding students’ experiences and by creating new capacity within existing departments, says Lyng, head of the UW Department of Mathematics.

In addition to offering innovative cooperative activities, FRAMEWORK will provide summer internship opportunities. Doctoral students can choose from internships with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which shares a supercomputer center with UW in Cheyenne; the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.; and with Western Research Institute and the Wyoming Technology Business Center, both based in Laramie.

“These summer programs will introduce Ph.D. students to applied mathematics outside the university setting, along with skills seldom stressed in doctoral programs: proposal writing, project budgeting, project management and communicating science with nonspecialists,” Allen says.

One of the program’s goals is to develop a national template for multi-institution partnerships, to help guide future cooperation among doctoral programs having similar emphases but housed in different universities, he says.

“We hope this project provides a useful model for similar Ph.D. programs in other institutions,” Allen says. “An equally important goal is to enrich traditional doctoral education with activities that prepare professional mathematicians for the broadest possible range of academic and nonacademic careers.”

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