Senior Sammie Worthington set herself up for success with summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). Worthington spent two months working with other undergraduate students on Ithaca College’s campus doing mathematical research.
During her junior year, Worthington started to consider what she could do over the summer to better prepare for graduate school. She talked with her advisor, Dr. John Schneider, and he recommended doing an REU. He told her that Dr. Bobbi Buchholz ‘02 had done one and it set her apart when she went to graduate school.
“He recommended that I apply for those, and I didn’t know what else I could do for a math internship, so this was the perfect choice,” Worthington said.
She applied for several different REUs, writing a personal statement and submitting letters of recommendation for each. She had to describe why she wanted to be a part of the program, her interest in math and her future plans.
In the end she decided to do her REU at Ithaca College. “It fit my schedule perfectly and it had a topic that I’m interested in,” Worthington said. “It fell right into my hands – it was great.”
Worthington’s REU was all about research on fractal trees, so she and two other undergraduate students had the opportunity to discover all they could about them. Her mentor for the REU was a professor at Ithaca College, Dr. Dave Brown, and he spent the first couple of weeks just introducing the students to fractal trees. Then he guided them through creating a research question that they would spend the rest of their time focusing on.
Throughout their research, Worthington’s group worked on LaTeX, which is a software that makes mathematical writings. With it, they made a report that had every conclusion they came to and every route they took.
At the end of her REU, Worthington and her group presented all their findings to the other groups and the professors. “We had a poster presentation, with the best conclusions we came to. We had to pick and choose from our larger report,” Worthington said. She hopes to present her findings at Hastings College sometime during her senior year.
While this experience will help set Worthington apart for her graduate school applications, it’s also helped her learn what she’d like to study in graduate school.
“I discovered that I do like researching math,” Worthington said. “Working with the less straightforward side of math, where you’re not given the process to find it or the answers ahead of time, is something that I really enjoy.”