Opportunities for Undergraduate Research
Undergraduate Research Opportunities in the Math and Stats Department
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics at McMaster University offers a number of opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in mathematical and statistical research. These opportunities include in-course research experiences, summer research opportunities at McMaster, and external conferences and research programs, are described in more detail below.
This list is not intended to be definite; students are encouraged to contact potential supervisors directly.
Course Related Opportunities
(A) The department offers three reading courses:
In a reading courses, students independently learn an advanced topic in mathematics or statistics, normally reading an advanced textbook. To enroll in a reading courses, approach a faculty member to determine if they will be able to supervise your reading project.
The form to enroll in a reading course is here.
Note that students require a GPA of at least 7.0 and the permission of the department, given by the Associate Chair (Undergraduate), to enroll in this course.
(B) The department offers two senior research projects
Students who take a senior research project work on project in their fourth year over two semesters. Students independently learn an advanced topic in mathematics and statistics, give a presentation on their work, and depending upon their topic, may work on open research problems. To enroll in a senior project, approach a faculty member to determine if they will be able to supervise your reading project.
The form to enroll in a reading course is here.
Note that a senior research project requires registration in Level IV of any Honours Mathematics and Statistics program and a GPA of at least 9.0. In addition, the permission of the department, given by the Associate Chair (Undergraduate), is needed to enroll in this course.
Here are some past samples of research projects from Math 4P06/Stats 4T06.
(C) For students in a mathematics program with a co-op option, it may be possible to obtain a research co-op placement within the department to work with a faculty member on their research. For more information, contact either the Associate Chair (Undergraduate) or the Science Career and Co-operative Education Office.
(D) The department offers numerous seminars and colloquiums every week. Undergraduate students are welcome to attend. These lectures are informal, so only attend the ones that interest you. The weekly schedule can be found here.
Summer Research Opportunities
In the summer, there a number of opportunities for students to engage in research as a research opportunities. Some of these opportunities are detailed below:
(A) NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are meant to stimulate students’ interest in research in mathematics (and other natural sciences and engineering). A recipient of the award takes part in a research project under a supervision of a faculty member, for 16 weeks over summer. If interested, approach a faculty member and discuss this opportunity.
Check out the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award web page for more information on eligibility and the application procedure.
Applications are normally due in January/February.
(B) The James Stewart Awards are internal awards. Students can apply for up to $5,000 to do research in the summer with a faculty member. Information about these awards are sent out to all undergraduates in the Winter term, with applications due in March. Applications for larger awards are now being accepted for Summer 2022. The deadline is March 22, 2022. Futher application information can be found on James Stewart Awards (PDF). To see past award winners and their projects, visit the Stewart Fund Award Winners webpage.
C) The Fields Institute (Toronto) Undergraduate Summer Research Program is a two month summer research program in Toronto in July and August. Most of your expenses are paid. Applications are normally open in December. For more on this year’s program, visit 2022 Fields Undergraduate Summer Research Program.
D) For mathematics students interested in infectious disease modelling, the McMaster’s Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) also offers summer USRAs. The IIDR provides student fellowship awards to eligible undergraduates to work with an IIDR member during the summer. The application deadline is normally in late February or early March and involves a one-page research proposal.
In addition to above programs, there are also a number of research activities available to undergraduates during the summer. Some of these include:
(A) Canadian Undergraduate Mathematical Conference (CUMC). The CUMC is the largest conference in North America for undergraduate students in mathematics.
For information on the 2022 conference, visit CUMC 2022.
Note that sometimes department funds are available to attend this conference
(B) The Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) (Vancouver) has summer school programs, with some suitable for undergraduates.
(C) Mitacs offers a number of programs for Canadian undergraduate students in Mathematics & Statistics. For undergraduates who are looking for funding opportunities, including for summer research, one option is the Accelerate program. The Open Projects page on the Mitacs website, where companies/organizations are looking for an academic connection, can also be a good place to look for example projects connected with industry and to engage in research.
(D) Dr. David Earn’s web page also has useful information.
You will find information on several programs that involve undergraduate research: Canada Summer Jobs program, Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP).
(E) Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is one of Government of Canada’s key security and intelligence organizations. Opportunities for students can be found on the Opportunities for students webpage.
(F) Other opportunities. From time-to-time, we receive information about additional events. We will post links to this information below.