North Central College is awarded grant for interdisciplinary project

Feb 16, 2015

North Central College has been awarded a distinguished Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM) mini-grant to support participating faculty members in setting up an undergraduate research group for the 2015-2016 academic year.

North Central’s grant will fund stipends for four students and their research and presentation expenses. CURM is funded by the National Science Foundation grant DMS--1148695, Brigham Young University (BYU) and sponsors.

Marco V. Martinez, assistant professor of mathematics, and Gregory Ruthig, assistant professor of biology, are co-principal investigators on the project. They will collaborate to develop mathematical models to determine how molds affect amphibian populations. Both Martinez and Ruthig teach in distinct areas, yet their interdisciplinary contributions are essential to the project goals.

Martinez selected four students as part of the team: Rebecca Rachan ’16, Dana Lacey ’16, Taylor Spino ’17 and Lisette Herrera ’18. All are female and skilled mathematics majors; some are first-generation college students and minority students.
“This CURM project will be a great opportunity for our students to continue expanding their mathematical knowledge by doing research during the entire academic year,” Martinez says. “It will also give them the opportunity to be mentors to younger students and improve their leadership, communication and teaching skills.” The grant project reinforces North Central’s undergraduate research program as well as the interest of students who want to pursue graduate education.

In preparation for launching the yearlong project in fall 2015, Martinez will attend a conference this summer at BYU for all the directors associated with the grant. As a culminating event in summer 2016, the participating students will have the opportunity to present their project research and findings at BYU to scientists and other students.

Martinez and Ruthig plan to use their initial results to support their application for an NSF Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) grant.