Discovering Research and Expanding Access to Mathematics

What is DREAM? DREAM (Discovering Research and Expanding Access to Mathematics) is a new NSF-sponsored summer program, led by Dr. Yan Zhuang, for Davidson students interested in exploring research in mathematics, learning about the mathematical community / profession, and engaging in educational outreach.

Dr. Zhuang is seeking 4 students for the DREAM team in Summer 2024, who will be paid at the rate of $15 per hour (for a 10-week commitment of full-time work). DREAM will run from May 20–July 26, 2024.

What kind of math will the DREAM team research? Dr. Zhuang will supervise projects in enumerative combinatorics, the area of math concerned with counting discrete mathematical structures. On a day-to-day basis, this involves drawing lots of pictures (or writing computer code) to discover and investigate patterns, and seeking to understand these patterns by making conjectures and writing proofs. Most projects will involve permutations, but we will investigate connections with other combinatorial objects as well. All projects will be done collaboratively with other members of the DREAM team. No prior experience with combinatorics is expected!

How is DREAM different than a typical summer research program? DREAM has a special emphasis on professional development and aims to cultivate an appreciation for service work as part of the mathematical profession. To that end:

  • Each week during the summer, the DREAM team will discuss a reading on topics such as the role of community in math, common struggles faced by early-career mathematicians (and how to get past them), and issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, ethics, and justice relevant to the mathematical profession.
  • Dr. Zhuang is partnering with the EOS program at William A. Hough High School in Cornelius, which serves students from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds. We are planning a full-day event in Fall 2024 to showcase fun math topics outside the K-12 curriculum! The DREAM team will assist in designing math activities during the summer, and help facilitate them at the Fall event.
  • We will attend and present our work at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Seattle, WA from Jan. 8–11, 2025. All travel expenses will be covered.

Who can apply? Any Davidson student who has already completed an intro-to-proofs course (MAT 220/230/255) and who will continue to be a full-time Davidson student in Fall 2024.

Students without prior research experience in mathematics, as well as students from groups historically underserved in mathematics, are particularly encouraged to apply!

HOW TO APPLY: Please complete this application form (Davidson Google login required). The deadline for submission is Friday, March 15; review of applications will begin soon after.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Zhuang (yazhuang@davidson.edu) if you have questions about DREAM!