Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Will there be a program at SUNY Potsdam/Clarkson in 2015?

A. Yes! There will four groups, with between 9 and 13 students total.

Q. What is a typical day like for a student participant?

A. This varies from group to group, but generally, you should expect to meet with your group for about 2 hours per day on the SUNY Potsdam campus. You will spend the rest of the day learning/discovering/writing up new math on your own, or informally with your co-workers. Once a week we generally have an outside speaker give a 50 minute presentation, followed by lunch. The groups will also have opportunities to present their work to the other students in the program.

Q. Who were the outside speakers in a recent year?

A. Michael Gage, University of Rochester,``Applications of geometric probability to differential geometry: How much curvature is needed to close a curve?"

Lew Ludwig, Denison University,``Links and stick knots"

Jeffrey Weeks, Independent Mathematician,``What is a hyperbolic knot?"

Natalia Toporikova, McGill University,``Spiking, Firing, Bursting: neurons on the move."

Kimberly Kinateder, Wright State University,``Brownian Motion"

Dr. James Lynch, Clarkson University,``What is Systems Biology?"

Dr. Michael Puls, John Jay College of the City University of New York, ``Connections between groups, geometry, and graph theory"

Martinez Avendano Ruben Alejandro, Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Hidalgo, ``Arrow's Theorem, or why democracy is bad but everything else is worse."

Jo Ellis-Monaghan, St. Michael's College, ``Graph Theory Designs for DNA Nanostructures"

Q. Will there be any organized activities?

A. We plan to have an organized day-trip to Ottawa (bring your passport), as well as an Adirondack hike. We also typically have 3 group dinners/BBQs. The students also tend to organize a lot of informal activities among themselves.

Q. Will there be snow?

A. Though Potsdam is located just about a half-hour from Canada, the weather is quite nice in the summer.

Q. Where is the closest airport?

A. If you fly, we suggest that you fly into the Syracuse, NY airport, and then take a bus to Potsdam. We'll help you get from the bus station in Potsdam to your accomodations. The bus ticket will cost you about $25 one-way.

Q. Will I be encouraged to present my work?

A. Yes. In addition to presenting talks within our program, we also encourage our participants to present a talk or a poster at their home institutions, as well as at professional meetings. We have $300 per student available in support for presentation at a conference.

Q. How long has there been an REU program in Potsdam?

A. Our 2015 program will be be our eightteenth program. We have had just about 190 student participants. Many of them are currently in graduate school in mathematics, and others have completed their Ph.D.'s.

Q. I am a vegetarian/have a special diet. Will there be vegetarian (special diet) food available?

A. There is a small but wonderful food co-op in town, which is within walking distance of campus. There is also a farmers' market that is open two days a week in the summer. The on-campus eateries have a wide variety of options.

Q. What is the situation with internet access?

A. Wireless and wired access are both available in the residence halls.

Q. Will my cell phone service work in Potsdam?

A. ATT and Verizon work for sure. The Sprint network has some coverage. You should check with your provider.

Q. I am not a permanent resident of the US. Should I bother applying?

A. Unfortunately, our grant money does not allow us to fund non-permanent residents of the US. However, if you are already at a US school, and you do not need a stipend, then you are welcome to apply, as there is a small but non-zero chance that we will be able to offer you a position.

Q. What is the Potsdam area like anyway?

A. It's very rural. There are a lot of interesting places within a short drive (see some of the links below), especially the Adirondack Park, Ottawa, and Montreal. In terms of recreation after a day of work doing math, you will probably be engaged in activities with the other REU students. In the past, our students have played a lot of group soccer and basketball, as well as parlor type games, including Set and Chess.

Q. What's the housing situation?

A. Students live in a cluster of on-campus apartments. Most, if not all students will have a single room in a 2 person apartment (there may be a few apartments with 3 students). The apartments have a nice kitchen, as well as two bedrooms, a bathroom and a living room. There is no AC, but Potsdam tends to have cooler weather than the rest of the country.

Q. What should I address in my letter of intent/letter of interest?

A. In general, why do you want to participate in an REU in mathematics? In particular, why are you interested in our program?

Q. I participated in (did not participate in) an REU elsewhere last year, will this affect my chances of being selected?

A. We accept students with and without previous REU experience.

Q. I am a smart high school student, should I apply?

A. Probably not, especially if you will be under 18 years old when the program starts. You should seriously consider applying to the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics Program for mathematically talented high school students (

Local Information

  • SUNY Potsdam Mathematics Department homepage.

  • SUNY Potsdam.

  • Clarkson University Division of Mathematics and Computer Science.

  • Clarkson University.

  • The Village of Potsdam.

  • Norwood Village Green--Great free local summer concert series.

  • A rare functioning drive-in movie theater.

  • Information on the nearby Adirondack Mountains.

  • Information on nearby (1.5 hour drive) Ottawa, Capital of Canada, eh.

  • Information on nearby (2 hour drive) Montreal.

  • Information on nearby (1.5 hour drive) Lake Placid.

  • Almanzo Wilder Homestead. If you are a fan of "Little House" Books, you would like this place.

  • Information on the nearby (1.5 hour drive) Thousand Islands.

  • North Country Public Radio.

  • Frederick Remington Art Museum.

  • Akwesasne Cultural Center.

  • North Country Now.