Kumer Das, associate professor of mathematics, has been tapped as the director of the newly-established Office of Undergraduate Research. Reporting directly to the Office of the Provost, the research office is temporarily located in the Lucas Engineering building.
“I’m deeply honored and humbled to have been selected for this position,” Das said. “This is a wonderful opportunity, and I’m looking forward to working with our students and faculty.”
With the objective of promoting an innovation-oriented culture at Lamar, the office will encourage all students and faculty in all disciplines to participate in undergraduate research. In addition to helping students with research and funding, some of the office’s many goals include hosting workshops for undergraduate students, hosting an annual undergraduate research exposition, applying for the annual Posters on the Hill competition, becoming a campus liaison to the Council of Undergraduate Research and hosting at least one national or regional conference.
“The creation of this initiative is a part of the university’s strategic plan to offer undergraduates and selected graduates educational experiences of excellence, both curricular and co-curricular, which engage students with faculty and staff to meet their diverse needs,” Das said.
Das, who will continue to teach mathematics in addition to directing the Office of Undergraduate Research, began teaching at Lamar in 2005 as an assistant professor. Since then, Das has conducted research with 30 undergraduates, the results of which have been the subject of four publications, 36 research talks and eight poster presentations at national and regional conferences. Das recently returned from a faculty development leave during which he conducted research at the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute, funded by the National Science Foundation. In conjunction with members of the Centers for Disease Control, the United States Census, and pharmaceutical companies, Das analyzed data-driven decisions on health care.
“It has been shown that students who participate in undergraduate research gain valuable research skills and a greater interest in their field of study,” Das said. “As a student, undergraduate research will also aid in sharpening their communication skills, quantitative skills, critical thinking skills and give you a more in depth understanding of your research field.”
On Oct. 1, Lamar will welcome Carol Bender, director of undergraduate biology research at Arizona State University. Bender will speak about the importance of undergraduate research at 3:00 p.m. on the eighth floor of the John Gray Library in the Spindletop Room. For more information on the Office of Undergraduate Research and/or Bender’s undergraduate research talk, contact Kumer Das at (409) 880-7947.
— Lamar press release