Mathematics Department Grants

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Article by Kathy Logan <>

The mathematics department at Ursinus College saw an exciting development when three of its faculty members were awarded the AMS-Simons Research Enhancement Grant for Primarily Undergraduate Institution (PUI) Faculty gant. These three faculty members are Nicholas Scoville, Olena Kozhushkina, and Eric Mawuena Takyi.

Scoville and Kozhushkina received $3,000 to support research-related activities and $300 in discretionary funds for their department and $300 for administrative costs. Assistant Professor Eric Mawuena Takyi received $3,000 for support research-related travel and $600 in discretionary funds for their department for two years.

When asked about his course offerings at Ursinus, Scoville explained, “I teach the gamut of mathematics courses from first-year calculus courses to Capstone courses in topology. I also teach a course called Mathematics for Human Flourishing which is a college Core Capstone course. It is a discussion-based Humanities course about mathematics as a human endeavor.” Scoville was then asked to explain the grant that he and the other faculty members received. “The grant is sponsored by the Simons Foundation as well as the American Mathematical Society (AMS), and it is to promote research collaborations for colleges and universities that are focused on undergraduates, that is schools without a Ph.D. program in mathematics. Many opportunities are available to professors at large research institutions, but there are very few grant opportunities for professors whose primary focus is teaching undergraduates. This grant is designed to give professors like me an opportunity to engage in research with my colleagues. The grant funds are intended to offset travel costs for collaboration visits. In fact, I will be using it to visit a colleague at the University of Florida tomorrow!” Scoville then explained the process of applying for the grant and receiving said grant, “It was available to apply for around January and applications were due in March. This grant is actually the first of its kind, so I am excited to be among the first recipients of it. The reception of the grant simply consists in the Simons Foundation transferring funds over to Ursinus College which I have been able to access through account numbers. That part is much less exciting.” 

Scoville then went into detail about what he plans to use this grant for. He started by saying that the project he is doing is collaborative: “I have already used some to support both me and my colleague at Fairfield University in Connecticut to visit a collaborator of ours at Cleveland State University. With the grant, I was able to offset travel costs for the two of us, which allowed us to spend a week at Cleveland State with our colleague and work on a mathematical research project. This project has already been completed and is now under review. As mentioned above, I am also using this funding to visit a different colleague at the University of Florida where we will work on a mathematics project. I have several other colleagues that I plan to visit or plan to meet up with at a conference over the next couple of years using these funds.” The interview finished with Scoville explaining what the grant means for the Ursinus mathematics department. “I think receiving these grants in our department, especially having three of us receive them together, very much boosts the visibility of our department in the greater mathematical community. There were only about 40 such grants given, and the recipients as well as their institutions are listed so seeing one school three times among such a small group sticks out. It will also allow more research opportunities for undergraduates in our department. The more projects that the professors in the department have going on and the more research collaborators they have, the more opportunities there are for undergraduates in our department.” 

Ursinus is excited to see what the Mathematics faculty does with their grants and how it will improve the department!