Undergraduate Research

As a student in Mathematics, you have the option to engage in undergraduate research which complements your classroom learning. Undergraduate research involves a student exploring and obtaining on his/her own with faculty support results original to the student, although not necessarily new to mathematics. Several courses, such as Math 3000 or advanced undergrad electives, may have a required or optional paper, that could be a research project. In addition, you can devote an entire course to research at anytime during your time at Northeastern by taking a directed study course with a Mathematics faculty member.

A particular opportunity occurs in conjunction with one of the Department’s capstone courses, all of which involve student projects. Possible projects can involve any mixture of pure and applied mathematics and may incorporate tools such as programming languages, statistical packages, data bases. In addition to projects proposed by faculty, projects may be posed by students resulting from learning during their coop experiences, or through community partners in the University Service-Learning program, or through contact with their laboratory or course work in related subjects. If your math research project is particularly successful, it could form the basis for a junior/senior honors project and graduation with Honors in Mathematics. There are also other opportunities to present your research, or publish it, both at the university and outside. Mathematics students have been among presenters at the university’s annual Research and Scholarship Expo and also at national undergraduate conferences.

Your work with mathematics faculty together with your classroom work can form a strong foundation for a wide range of summer programs in mathematics and science, such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs that are offered throughout the country, with some international locations as well. These programs, and as well a Senior Thesis may lead to authoring or coauthoring journal articles, and can provide a stronger background for applying to graduate school in mathematics.

The following students received the distinction “Honors in Mathematics” for their Junior-Senior Honors project, upon graduating May 2015

  • Annie Dai: Title: “Quantitative Thermo-acoustics Tomography”, Advisor: Professor Ting Zhou
  • Kyle Myer: Title: “Colorful Analogues of Associahedra-like Polytopes”, Advisor: Professor Egon Schulte
  • John Riestenberg: Title: “The longitudinal Hall invariant of a knot”, Advisor: Professor Alexandru Suciu

If you are interested in pursuing undergraduate research projects, please feel free to consult a faculty member, advisor, or an undergraduate research contact person. You can also consult our webpage on Research Topics and Problems. 

Faculty Advisors
The following may be consulted for problems on specific topics.

Contact Faculty

The following are available to discuss a research project option not posted, or advise about undergraduate research and find a potential advisor.

  • Prof. A. Iarrobino – instructor of Math 4020
    Office: 526 Nightingale Hall
    E-mail: Send Mail
  • Prof. D. King
    Office: 447 Lake Hall
    E-mail: Send Mail
  • Prof. R. McOwen – Instructor of Math 4025 in Spring 2015
    Office: 445 Lake Hall
    E-mail: Send Mail

Further Information
Students graduating with Honors in Mathematics, must have a course of study in mathematics approved by the Undergraduate Research Committee. This will normally include the following upperclass courses required for a BA or BS in Mathematics:
Math 2331 Linear Algebra, Math 3150 Real Analysis, or Math 4565 Topology, Math 3175 Group Theory, Math 3560 Geometry or Math 3527 Number Theory, also a Mathematics Capstone (Math 5331, Math 4020 or Math 4025). Exceptions must be approved by the math department’s Undergraduate Research Committee. For example, a dual major might request a one course exception.

The student must complete two mathematics department courses (8 hours) comprising a junior senior honors project accepted by the Undergrad Research Committee. With approval of the instructor and URC one of the math department Capstones may be accepted as the first of these.

Students are advised to contact the URC with a proposal in advance of the two course project sequence, if they plan to complete an honors project. However, a student with the support of an instructor of a directed study in progress or completed may apply to the Undergraduate Research Committee to have that course considered as the first of a two course honors project.

Students beginning a Junior-Senior Honors thesis are expected to have taken relevant math department undergrad courses before beginning the first course of a two course honors project. For example a student proposing a project in combinatorics, should have completed Math 3533 or material equivalent prior to beginning his/her project; a student proposing a project in finite fields or rings should have completed Math 3175 prior to beginning the first research project course, and is expected to complete Math 4576 Rings and Fields or an equivalent before graduation. A student studying traffic flow as a project might wish to have taken Math 4525 or 4545 before undertaking the project.

Acceptance into the second research course for a Junior-Senior Honors thesis must be preceded by approval by the URC of a research proposal and advisor. In addition, the student must submit evidence of having completed a first research course on this project, and as well appropriate Math Department and other courses to support work on the project, and expertise in the area of the project. The submission must be evaluated and approved by the math department URC before registration for the second course of a Junior-Senior honors project, and before completing the relevant online honors in the discipline intention form.

The URC will choose a three person committee including the thesis advisor to supervise the undergraduate thesis.

Summary of Research Related Courses:

Additional Information

Journals for Undergraduate Mathematics Research


Presenting Your Research
There are many regional conferences which encourage undergraduates to present a paper or a poser


Sources of Financial Support for Undergraduate Research


Other Links