Approaching a UH Math Professor about Supervising an Undergraduate Research Project
- Choose a professor that you know or have had a class from, and who you think you would enjoy working with. You may want to take a look at their webpage to see what their research entails, but it's not particularly important that it matches your interests (or that you even understand what it is). Unlike the sciences, in an undergraduate research project in mathematics, you will probably not be working on the professor's own research projects.
- Undergraduate Research Projects are usually done by juniors or seniors after they have completed the Calculus Sequence, the 2000-level Linear Algebra, and the Transition to Advanced Math Class. It also helps if you've had some exposure to upper-level mathematics in other 3000-level or 4000-level courses.
- If possible, go to the professor's office and talk to them in person rather than sending an email. Bring a copy of your unofficial transcripts (either printed from PeopleSoft or just a list of courses you've taken with grades received). Tell the professor you are interested in doing an undergraduate research project, and ask if they would be willing to supervise you. You don't need to have an idea of what you want to work on --- if you want to express some general interests (e.g., "I enjoy Linear Algebra", or "I liked my Real Analysis class") that is fine, but not necessary. It is also a good idea to tell the professor how much time you can contribute to the project. (This may vary, but something like one hour per week meeting with the professor plus 3--6 hours per week of work on your own seems reasonable.)
- The professor may ask you some questions about your background and what you may want to work on. They may ask for some time to see if they can come up with a project that is suitable. They may give you one possible project or they might give you a few possible projects you can choose from. You can then discuss the potential project(s) together to decide if you are interested.
Support for Undergraduate Research at UHIf you would like to receive financial support for a research project, the following are possibilities.
- The Provost's Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program (PURS) provides part-time support during the semester.
- The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship provides full-time support during the summer.
- UH Students who are members of the Math Alliance can apply for funding form the Math Alliance to assist with undergraduate research projects. Contact Dr. Mark Tomforde if you are interested in becoming a student member of the Math Alliance.
- The Scholar Enrichment Program (SEP) sometimes has funds to support undergraduate research projects. Contact them to inquire if funding is available.
If you would like to receive academic credit for your research project, the following options exist.
Typically, receiving course credit for an undergraduate research project is meant for advanced students or students who have taken a wide range of background courses. It is not intended as a means to fulfill major requirements. Enrolling in an independent study course (e.g., Math 4198) requires a petition and approval of the department chair, and should not be used to fulfill a 4000-level course requirement for the major. The Senior Honors Thesis Program is run by the Honors College, and has GPA and other requirements.
In general, you can receive either financial reimbursement or academic credit for a research project, but not both. Of course, you can also do an undergraduate research project with a UH professor without any funding or credit, so if you'd prefer to do it purely for the benefit of the experience, and on a voluntary basis without payment or course credit, that is fine too.
General Undergraduate Research at UHThe Office of Undergraduate Research at UH has some resources and opportunities for undergraduates pursuing research projects. They are aimed at all disciplines, so you may need to look through what they offer and decide if it is relevant for math research or not.
- Office of Undergraduate Research at UH
- Facebook page for Undergraduate Research at UH
- Houston Undergraduate Research Network (HURN)
- Scholarships for Undergraduate Research at UH