The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo hosts an elite handful of students this summer who will engage in challenging mathematical and computational activities. Each year, 24 undergraduates and two graduate students from across the country come to UH Hilo for Pacific Undergraduate Research Experience in Mathematics (PURE Math).
PURE Math is a research experience for undergraduates (REU) program funded by a National Science Foundation Mentoring Through Critical Transition Points grant and a National Security Agency award. The session is comprised of two sections consisting of a five-week intern program and an eight-week resident program.
PURE Math, now in its fourth year, is Hawaʻi’s only mathematics research experience serving undergraduates and the only one in the country focusing on Pacific Island students. The program is also one of the country’s most productive and competitive research experience for undergraduates with an acceptance rate of just 5 to 7 percent.
PURE Math has received high marks from its external evaluator, which reported that the program has achieved rare results for REU’s by excelling in producing rigorous, high quality mathematics while serving under-represented populations. Principle investigator and Assistant Professor Roberto Pelayo says the program’s success speaks for itself.
“The benchmarks we measure the program’s success by include the numerous peer-reviewed publications we’ve produced that have appeared in research-level journals and the number of students who use this summer research program to gain entry into some very competitive PhD programs in mathematics,” Pelayo said. “You can find PURE Math alumni in mathematics PhD programs at several top-tier universities, including such storied institutions as Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley.”
Pelayo believes these success stories are earning UH Hilo a reputation as a “hot spot” for undergraduate mathematics research training.