Today marks the first day of the WMC REU. I never went to a formal REU as an undergraduate, so I’m a first-timer just like many of the students. My first task today finding a suitable coffee shop for my summer caffeinated home base. (I settled on The Governor’s Cup, which sports an exposed brick wall, generously-sized table tops, and coffee that’s roasted in-house).

Although I’d corresponded with my three research students via email, it was a treat to meet them in person. All nine of the students seem like good people, in fact, and so do the other research mentors. It’s rare to find a group where there isn’t a single unlikeable person (which leads me to wonder if, in reality, I’m the unlikable one? Nah…).

Besides having found a coffee shop that will inevitably see many hours of work on my part, I have an office in the mathematics “hearth” at Willamette. I haven’t had much experience visiting places for long enough to have an office; I find myself distracted by trying to calculate the number of math books I have in common with the usual owner. In my professional opinion, it’s a big number. We also have several climbing guides in common. What is it about math and climbers? (One of the REU students is a climber, too.)

In my first meeting with my group, we talked about the basics — scheduling, their goals for the summer, my goals for the summer, project possibilities, and, of course, homework. Since the homework required starting to read research papers, we talked about how to do that.

They had plenty to do for the day, so we broke and I spent the afternoon working on revising a paper that I’m writing with my graduate advisors. If I can get the paper out of my hands by next week, I’ll be a jubilant mathematician. After a productive session, I outlined some of my other summer goals. I’ve got other research work to do, and some general administrative professor “stuff” that I have been, well, lazy about getting done. While I feel well-prepared for my role as an REU mentor, I would like to wrangle some resources together in case they’re helpful.

It’s been a fun day!