Pearls of Wisdom

Advice for applying to REUs

I’ve had a few people ask me what I was looking for when I read through REU applications.  I thought I’d describe my process and my reasons, which you can take to be my rubric for putting together an excellent application.  As with all advice on this blog, these are my opinions.  You should gather a few other ideas for a complete picture, especially since this is my first time as an REU mentor.  Now, disclaimers aside, follow the jump to my advice.


Legend had it that, during the invasion, Archimedes was so engrossed in the study of a geometric figure in the sand that he failed to respond to the questioning of a Roman soldier. As a result, he was speared to death.

After reading this, Sophie Germain concluded that if somebody could be so consumed by a geometric problem that it could lead to their death, then mathematics must be the most captivating subject in the world.

How to get a job, Part I: your materials

Or: Gearing up for the job market; thank God it’s not me this time.

Hey friends!  Now that I’ve been on the market once, I’m qualified to give you advice.  Here’s the first part in an n-part series.

Your materials!  They’re how you let the job market know who you are and what you have to offer.  But you knew that already.  My first piece of advice is get a working draft of your teaching and research statements by the end of next week.  Why?  Because they’re hard to write, and it only gets harder once the semester starts.  Once you have a draft, you’ve done the hard work of thinking about your teaching and research, and you can relax and edit those puppies while grading stacks of exams.