Math department receives $2.2 million grant
The nationally-regarded UA mathematics department has been awarded a five-year, $2.2 million grant which is expected to aid student research and shorten graduation time.
The National Science Foundation recently awarded 20 schools - including the University of Arizona - the Vertical Integration of Graduate Research and Education grant, which will benefit 18 graduate students, 25 undergraduates, and four postdoctoral fellows each of the next five years.
According to Larry Grove, UA mathematics professor, graduate students are traditionally restricted to taking fewer classes than they would prefer because they are forced to spend much of their time working as teaching assistants to financially support themselves.
Eleven graduate students will participate in the grant-established VIGRE program this spring, which will allow them to give up their duties as teaching assistants and spend more time as researchers.
Guadalupe Lozano, mathematics graduate student, said courses that will no longer be covered by these participants will be distributed amongst the adjunct faculty.
The program will give full-support fellowships to the selected students for up to 33 months.
Grove added that because of the new grant, graduate students will have time for "more courses because they will be paid the same pay as they would have been as TA's (while spending less time working)."
Andre Lehovich, mathematics graduate student, will be a participant in the new VIGRE program.
"I used to work 30 hours a week ... for the math department as a TA, on top of taking my own classes," said Lehovich in an e-mail interview.
"Because of the support provided by the grant I no longer need an assistantship and can devote those hours to research, hopefully graduating faster and writing a better dissertation."
Undergraduate students will also benefit from the grant. Selected students will participate in one-semester assistantships in research or teaching. The grant allows the math department to give each student as much as $1,250, Grove said.
Grove added that students are given a short test to determine competency. A department committee then selects students on the basis of merit.
One of the reasons the UA mathematics department was chosen for this grant is because the department is regarded as "one of the nation's best producers of doctorate-level mathematicians," according to the American Mathematical Society.
The AMS has recognized the mathematics department for "excellence in teaching," and "its focus on mathematics education and applied mathematics."
The UA mathematics department received another large grant in August which will set up the Math and Parents Partnership in the Southwest. The $3.2 million program "involves teaching parents the importance of mathematics education in the K-12 levels," according to Marta Civil, UA mathematics associate professor.
The program is a collaboration between the university and parents of Sunnyside High School students. The UA holds workshops for parents to teach them the importance of math in their children's lives.
Currently, the MAPS grant is only given to the UA, but will expand to other schools in two years.