Updated November 19, 2018


James Madison University (JMU) has been chosen for a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site in mathematics. All interested undergraduates (who are US citizens or permanent residents) are encouraged to apply for this eight week program, in which students will work in groups of 2-4 under the supervision of their faculty mentors.


May 20 2019 - July 12 2019.


Automated Identification of Geologic Features: In this project we will use Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) to create mathematical algorithms to identify geologic or geomorphic features such as geologic formations, old landslides and other sites of geohazards that have characteristic surface signatures. The results of the project will be useful for environmental engineers and geologists.

DEMs represent the Earth’s surface at various scales. DEMs can be derived from photogrammetry, radar, and LiDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging) that can be installed on aircraft, vehicles or satellites. The recent boom in drone technology has made photogrammetry and LiDAR more accessible. Currently DEMs are used for generating high resolution topographic dataset that is mostly used for visual identification of land features. We will use our methods to automate this identification.

Students will create mathematical models using techniques from applied mathematics and statistics to solve geological problems. They will also gain experience using R and manipulating real data.

Mentors: Celes Woodruff and Hasan Hamdan

Algebraic and Geometric Invariants of Incidence Structures: Given a relation between two finite sets, it is common to use a matrix to encode the information. Popular examples are the Laplacian matrix of a graph and the point-block incidence matrix of a design. Linear algebraic properties of the matrix can reflect geometric or combinatorial properties of the relation that can otherwise be difficult to detect. For example, the "critical group" of a graph comes from the Laplacian matrix and has order equal to the number of spanning trees of the graph. The critical group of the n-cycle graph is the cyclic group of order n, while the critical group of the n-dimensional cube is unknown. There are many interesting and open problems to be solved!

This project will study and compute such invariants using both discrete and continuous methods, including matrix normal forms, chip firing games, heat flow and similar evolutive models, and numerical experiments.

Mentors: Josh Ducey and David Duncan

Housing and a $4,500 stipend are supplied, as well as full use of university facilities and travel expenses.


Please visit mathprograms.org to apply. Application deadline is February 21, 2019.

Common reply date

This REU participates in the Mathematical Sciences REU Common Reply Date agreement. Any student who receives an offer from an REU that participates in the Common Reply Date agreement, including this REU, is not required to accept or decline the offer until March 8, 2019 (or later). The goal of the Common Reply Date agreement is to help students make informed decisions, particularly when faced with the potential of receiving offers from multiple REUs.

More Information

JMU is located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, bordered on the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains and on the west by the Allegheny Mountains. With sections of the George Washington National forest in both mountain ranges, there are excellent opportunities for hiking and camping in the area. Mountain biking is also very popular, and the rolling countryside makes for excellent road riding as well. There are a number of historical sites in the area, including the New Market Battlefield, for history buffs. Washington, D.C., with all its cultural opportunities, is only a 2-hour drive to the northeast. On-campus housing will be provided for mathematics and statistics REU students in the same building as the research students from other programs, and there will be a number of common social activities among these groups during the program.


Please write to mathreu@jmu.edu with any questions.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1560151. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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