facebook icon twitter icon youtube icon

Bryan Summer Research Program

Program Description

The Dr. Albert H. & Greta A. Bryan Summer Research Program in Mathematics is an opportunity to spend eight weeks of the summer engaging in mathematics at Simpson College. Each summer six students are selected to work on undergraduate research projects with Simpson College faculty members. Each student receives a stipend and paid on-campus housing during the program. In addition, the students receive funding to present their results at a national mathematics conference.

Program Dates

  • Bryan Summer Research Program: Tuesday, June 1, through Friday, July 23, 2021.
  • Conference Presentations: TBD for the Brodies' research group and Molly Tun's research group; Joint Mathematics Meetings January 5-8, 2022 for Ross Sweet's research group

Research Topics and Faculty Advisors 

There will be three research projects this summer (pending continued funding).

  • Dr. Ross Sweet will lead a project on topological data analysis.
  • Dr. Mark Brodie and Dr. Carolyn Brodie will lead a project using data science to investigate speech therapy.
  • Dr. Molly Tun will lead a project in Ethnomathematics, working with numeric data and statistics of social importance regarding the Latinx experience in Iowa.

Click here for detailed descriptions of the 2021 projects. The three research groups will give at least three talks at Simpson College: at the conclusion of the program in Summer 2021, at the Summer Research Symposium in Fall 2021, and at the Simpson College Undergraduate Symposium in Spring 2022. They will also travel to present at a conference during the 2021-2022 academic year.


To apply for the program, a student must satisfy the following requirements.

  1. Plan to graduate from Simpson College no earlier than April 2023.
  2. Declared a major in Mathematics, Actuarial Science, or Data Science.
  3. Commit at least 40 hours each week for the dates listed above. A participant may take a class or have a part-time job only if approved by his or her faculty advisor. 
  4. Participate in all required activities during and after the program, including making several presentations throughout the subsequent academic year.

Application Process

Applicants must submit paper copies of both a mathematical resume and a personal statement by 4:00PM on Monday, March 22, 2021, to Dr. Ross Sweet in Carver 337. A description of the information that should be included in each of these documents appears below. The mathematics department will meet to review the applications and applicants will be notified as soon as selections are made.

Mathematical Resume

Your mathematical resume should contain the following information.

  • Overall GPA and your GPA in the Mathematics, Actuarial Science, or Data Science major (this information can be found on your degree audit).
  • All declared majors and minors.
  • List of the mathematics courses you have completed and are currently enrolled in.
  • All participation in mathematics department activities.
  • Participation in other relevant activities since arriving at Simpson College.
  • The name and office phone number of one Simpson College faculty member who is not in the mathematics department to serve as a reference.

Personal Statement

Your personal statement should contain the following information and should be no longer than two pages.

  • Why should you be selected to participate in the program?
  • How would you benefit from participating in the program?
  • What special skills would you bring to your research team?
  • What are your goals for the summer?
  • What are your career plans and/or graduate school plans?
  • Briefly describe your level of interest in each project. Clearly indicate your order of preference.

Past Research Projects

Summer 2019 (descriptions)

  • Dr. Heidi Berger
  • Dr. Katherine Vance

Summer 2018 (descriptions)

  • Dr. Heidi Berger
  • Dr. Nicolas Rey-Le Lorier

Summer 2017 

  • Knot Theory - Dr. Katherine Vance
  • Mathematical Billiards - Robert Vance

Summer 2016 (descriptions)

  • Dr. Rick Spellerberg
  • Dr. Heidi Berger

Summer 2015 (descriptions)

  • Dr. Rick Spellerberg
  • Dr. Don Evans

Summer 2014 (descriptions)

  • Collective Behavior in Complex Systems - Dr. Aaron Santos
  • Draft Strategies - Dr. Bill Schellhorn

Summer 2013

  • Critical locations in infrastructure - Dr. Deb Czarneski
  • Sabermetrics and prediction - Dr. Bill Schellhorn

Summer 2012

  • Mathematical biology of prairie restoration - Dr. Heidi Berger
  • Number theory - Dr. Murphy Waggoner

Summer 2011

  • Ramsey numbers - Dr. Deb Czarneski
  • Coloring knots and tangles - Dr. Bill Schellhorn

Summer 2010

  • Time scales and stable flies - Dr. Heidi Berger
  • The evolution of cooperation in the face of competition - Dr. Rick Spellerberg

Summer 2009

  • Time scales and the emerald ash borer - Dr. Heidi Berger
  • Knot theory and DNA - Dr. Bill Schellhorn

Summer 2008

  • Graph labeling - Dr. Deb Czarneski
  • Auction theory - Dr. Rick Spellerberg