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VIGRE is a prestigious program funded by the National Science Foundation whose main goal is to “increase the number of well-prepared U.S. citizens, nationals, and permanent residents who pursue careers in the mathematical sciences and to broaden their background and perspective.” The acronym stands for Vertical InteGration of Research and Education and in this context, vertical means across academic ranks—faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates.
The VIGRE program at the University of Arizona is a collaboration between the Department of Mathematics and the Interdisciplinary Program in Applied Mathematics. It spans all academic levels, from senior faculty to lower-division undergraduate, with outreach connections to local high schools and “horizontal integration” with other areas of research and other departments on campus. The program includes research training at the highest level, a spectrum of teaching and outreach activities, and a wealth of professional development opportunities, all combined in a carefully designed and collegial framework.
At the graduate level, our VIGRE program supports students with fellowships and travel funds. Most fellowships are awarded strategically based on a competitive application process and extend over one to three semesters or summers. A successful VIGRE fellowship application will have a convincing plan for advancing the student's intellectual goals (such as preparing for the comprehensive exam, pursuing independent work with a faculty member, or thesis research and writing), as well as a vertically integrated professional development activity (such as assisting with a graduate course, running summer study sessions for the qualifying exams, working with faculty and undergraduates on an undergraduate research project, or participating in outreach activities to the high schools). A few VIGRE fellowships are reserved for first-year students as a recruiting incentive. VIGRE supports student travel with an emphasis on presentation of work at conferences and poster sessions and on participation in intensive instructional conferences. Our VIGRE proposal also budgets support for the Integration Workshop for new mathematics graduate students and the Applied Mathematics Laboratory. See the graduate VIGRE pages for more details on the graduate aspects of our VIGRE program.
At the undergraduate level, our VIGRE program supports students involved in the Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA) and Undergradaute Teaching Assistant (UTA) programs and it supports undergraduate travel. URAs are supported for a semester or a summer and work on a research project with a faculty member possibly assisted by a post-doc or graduate student. Projects span the full range of mathematics, from geometry and topology to cryptography, modeling, and numerical analysis. Reports from these projects are posted on the URA web site. UTAs are also supported for a semester and work with a faculty member teaching an undergraduate course. UTAs are not just graders—they assist with class sessions, run review sessions, and do tutoring. They also participate in a teaching seminar organized by one of our teaching post-docs. Details about this program are available on the UTA web site. VIGRE supports undergraduates traveling to conferences and poster sessions, as well as our local undergraduate research conference AMUC. For more details about the undergraduate aspects of VIGRE, see the undergraduate VIGRE page.
At the post-doctoral level, our VIGRE project funds three-year positions for recent PhDs in both mathematics and applied mathematics. Fellows are provided with funds for travel, computers and supplies. In addition to their research and teaching duties, VIGRE fellows are expected to participate in vertical or horizontally integrated professional development activities. See the VIGRE post-doctoral page for more details.
Our VIGRE project also includes the Arizona Summer Program, a four-week undergraduate research experience held on the University of Arizona campus during the spectacular July monsoon season. The over-arching goal is to develop the pipeline of talented students from diverse backgrounds and institutions into the mathematical sciences professions while promoting a multi-institutional intellectual culture that draws on the best practices in integrating research and education, both at Arizona and at partner schools.
Finally, our VIGRE project includes a Southwestern Network activity, whose aim is to foster a broad exchange of ideas and people (faculty and students) throughout a seven-state region in the southwestern United states. The participation of faculty from network schools in the Arizona Summer Program, as well as the collaborative development of exportable project modules, will be facilitated by the network. We also hope that collaborations with network faculty will help to develop programs of research experiences for students at their own home institutions.
The VIGRE project is managed by the following team: