web1_COS-NSA-Grant-FacultyHUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A group of faculty within Marshall University’s Department of Mathematics has been awarded a $170,000 grant from the National Security Agency.

The grant will be used to fund undergraduate research and develop a scientific workforce in Appalachia, according to Dr. Elizabeth Niese, principal investigator for the project.

“One of the things in math research that is distinctive is learning how to ask questions and work toward answers we don’t already know,” Niese said. “Our research will focus on combinatorics and algebra. These fields have applications in computer science and physics.”

Niese, an assistant professor of mathematics, said nine students from across Appalachia will be invited to attend sessions each summer for the next two years. Colleagues Dr. Carl Mummert and Dr. Michael Schroeder will assist in the supervision of the students’ research experiences throughout the project.

“We need more people focused on science and mathematics. We are focusing on students from the general Appalachian region to develop that workforce here in West Virginia,” Mummert, co-principal investigator for the grant, said. “We need students from other institutions to work toward these same goals of fostering a stronger mathematics culture in the whole state.”

Marshall’s Department of Mathematics has been increasing research activities for the past decade and this grant is a reflection of this work and development, according to Schroeder, another assistant professor in the department.

“When crafting this grant proposal, we knew it would benefit our students and help to advance our department’s research efforts,” Schroeder said. “When students graduate, many are applying for the same job in a competitive job market. It’s been shown that students who have undergraduate research experiences have a much greater chance of getting a job, so what we are doing here is twofold: we want to engage students in mathematics and we want to make sure our students are marketable and will get jobs once they graduate.”

The Department of Mathematics, which is housed in the university’s College of Science, also recently received a three-year career development grant for applied mathematics. To learn more about the department’s upcoming research projects, visit www.marshall.edu/math/reu. For more information on the programs and services offered by the college, visit www.marshall.edu/cos.