Kazem Mahdavi, Ph.D.
Professor of Mathematics
I have received six grants: four from NSF (joint with David Powers from Clarkson), one from NSA, and one from Office of Educational Partnership. I have also received four Potsdam University (Potsdam, Germany) grants to visit Germany to collaborate with Professor K. Denecke. The results will soon appear in Discussiones Mathematicae. As well, I have received many internal (SUNY Potsdam) research and travel grants.
I used NSF, NSA, and Office of Educational Partnership grants to create and direct the Clarkson&endash;Potsdam Institute for Undergraduate Research Experience (CPIURE). Eventually I expanded our program to include high school teachers. The program is transforming the summer months into productive months for undergraduate students. Our program also helps high school teachers sharpen their mathematical skills, learn more mathematics, and join the mathematical community. Our program in particular helps new faculty members with their research and scholarly work. Last summer we had two assistant professors on board. This coming summer we plan to have three assistant professors on board.
This is the story of my struggle to create the Institute for Research Experience for undergraduates at SUNY Potsdam.
During the Summer of 1989, I involved one undergraduate math major in learning advanced topics in number theory. I was very pleased with the outcome. I noticed that both teacher and student can benefit.
During the Summer 1990 I was on sabbatical at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.
During the Summer of 1991, I tried to get internal funding for one undergraduate mathematics major to engage in advanced research. The award committee rejected his proposal. The student and I decided to work without funding. The result was quite good. This student has progressed to earn his Ph.D.
I was more convinced that I should continue the summer program. The next year, the College President asked the committee for support. Three undergraduate students and I obtained partial funding for the summer program. They awarded $1,000 for the student's salary. The result was positive again. We worked on Automatic Group Theory.
Eventually, in the summer of 1993, I got full support. By this time the award committee was convinced that both students and faculty would benefit and funded $2,000.00 for each student plus free housing and $500 for other research related expense. The outcome of the program in the summer of 1994 was great. The student and I were mentioned for our contribution to the important paper of Lee Mosher, a mathematics professor at Rutgers University. The student is now about to finish his Ph.D.
I began searching for external funding. When I was rejected by NSF, I invited David Powers from Clarkson University and C. Knickerbocker from St. Lawrence University to join me. They accepted, but NSF wrote to me, "It is very difficult to coordinate such a program with three universities involved." They wanted me to downsize. After some resistance I gave in.
So Clarkson and SUNY Potsdam applied for a grant from NSF. I invited two new mathematics faculty to join the program. Joel Foisy accepted my offer.
In 1997 I received funding to involve nine undergraduates and three student leaders in research in mathematics during summers. Each student received $2000. SUNY Potsdam provided free housing for students. The Provost's Office, Clarkson University, and the Office of Faculty Scholarship and Grants provided the student leaders' salary and other related expenses. I recruited nine students, three student leaders, and eight outside speakers. As well, I directed and managed the program for the summer.
My colleagues and I are very happy and honored to earn this funding. Only 19 universities get such funding, among them Cornell, Indiana and Washington Universities.
There were over one hundred applicants. The students were from Harvard, Swarthmore, Rice, New York, Cornell, and SUNY Potsdam.
I have had three very good summers (1997,1999, and 2000). Each summer eight famous mathematicians visited the site to meet the students and present mathematical talks. The speakers were from Cornell, Pennsylvania State, University of Illinois, St. Lawrence University, and Binghamton University.
The students were divided in three groups. Each group had a faculty advisor, a student leader, and three students. Both faculty and students benefited from the program.
During the summers of 2000 & 2001, I received more funding from NSA to expand our summer program. I also received funding from NSF to engage high school teachers in doing research and learning more mathematics during the summer months. I am looking forward to many good and productive summers ahead. Recently, I recieved another grant from NSF for three more years(2004).