The Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM) has awarded the Anderson University Department of Mathematics a grant totaling $22,000. This grant was awarded to the department in late December 2012 and will be used for research during the 2013-2014 school year. Anderson University was one of just 12 institutions nationwide to receive the grant.
Dr. Courtney Taylor and Dr. Justin Lambright, both recent additions to the Anderson University mathematics faculty, led the way in preparing the grant documents. Lambright discovered the opportunity on a website that connects new doctoral students with grants and quickly applied with the help of Taylor.
[Photo: Dr. Courtney Taylor (left) and Dr. Justin Lambright]
“Dr. Lambright discovered the grant right before it was due,” said Taylor, who is the chair of the Department of Mathematics and an AU alum. “We completed the work under time pressure, but I thought our work was well done. The CURM must have thought so as well.”
Lambright and Taylor achieved the grant by developing a mathematics problem first brought up in Lambright’s thesis. The grant will allow four students the opportunity to continue his research and then make a presentation at Brigham Young University in early 2014.
Lambright is excited to see the intellectual development that will come to students through the research. “The most interesting ideas in mathematics, to me, have been those that take a familiar situation and abstract it to a more general setting,” said Lambright. “While this often results in a setting that seems completely removed from the real world, it also allows us to get to the core of the problem.”
While many view mathematics as simply numbers and functions, Lambright views the subject as a portal to personal growth. “In a way it is analogous to when a small child wants to tear open a radio, or some toy, and see how it works. By stripping away the outer details, the unnecessary bits, we get a glimpse at the mechanism by which it functions,” said Lambright. “We gain insight into the Creator's mind.”
Taylor and Lambright are preparing for all that the research will entail. “On the pure math side of things, the students will first be asked to learn the background material and become proficient in performing these calculations by hand,” said Lambright. “This manual process will give insight into what is actually happening and will hopefully lead the students to make conjectures and prove them on their own.”
Lambright and Taylor are hoping to compile a team of students who are open to new methods of research and learning. “Mathematical research includes deciding what questions are worth asking, and then trying to answer them,” said Lambright. “It will be a very new, open-ended process for our students and will hopefully give them a better idea of what it means to be a professional mathematician.”
— Cody Poor is a 2013 graduate of Anderson University, majoring in communication arts and minoring in marketing. Poor is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.