First summer for joint NSF-funded Elon, N.C. A&T summer research experience concludes with student presentations

The summer research program on mathematical biology was held for the first time and completely virtually.

This summer saw the first offering of the National Science Foundation-funded Joint Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program offered through a collaboration between Elon University and North Carolina A&T State University and led by program co-directors Elon Professor of Mathematics Karen Yokley and Associate Professor of Mathematics Nicholas Luke from N.C. A&T.

The program focuses on providing opportunities for research in mathematical biology for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and schools with liberal arts and sciences traditions. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 10-week program was conducted virtually.

Participants met over Zoom and Webex for meetings, workshops, and other activities. Weekly activities included meetings with mentors including Yokley, Luke and Assistant Professor of Mathematics Suzanne O’Regan, Associate Professor of Statistics Seongtae “Ty” Kim from N.C. A&T. The program also included attending invited seminars and a proof-based course led by Zach Denton, associate professor of mathematics at N.C. A&T. Students were also expected to make weekly oral presentations and complete a written report by the end of the program.

Ten students in five research pairs worked on projects related to coronavirus transmission, toxicology, and phosphorylation. These students presented their research findings on July 31, 2020, to their mentors and invited guests.  Co-directors Yokley and Luke made welcoming statements, and Associate Professor of Statistics Laura Taylor made statements on behalf of Elon’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Four of the research pairs had already shared their results at the 2020 MATH REU Conference at Clemson University on July 27.

The collaborative REU program will be held again in Summers 2021 and 2022.  If conditions allow, the program will be held residentially on Elon University’s campus in 2021.