Two Texas State faculty awarded National Science Foundation CAREER grants
Jayme Blaschke | August 29, 2018
Texas State University's Chunmei Wang and Jennifer Czocher, both assistant professors of mathematics, have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) grants.
Wang's CAREER grant was awarded by the Computational Mathematics Program of the Division of Mathematical Sciences of NSF. The $400,000 grant will fund Wang’s research project, "Primal-Dual Weak Galerkin (PD-WG) Finite Element Methods."
Czocher's grant was awarded by the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Program of the Division of Undergraduate Education of NSF. The $950,000 grant will fund Czocher’s research project, "Scaffolding Strategies for Undergraduate Mathematical Modeling Skills."
The CAREER program offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.
Wang's project examines partial differential equations (PDEs), which are an important mathematical tool for modeling many scientific problems. The most common approach for solving these equations usually involves numerical methods. The goal of this project is to extend the theory and develop novel numerical methods of one such method known as the PD-WG algorithm. The resulting computational codes will be made publicly available.
In addition, Wang will apply the new methods to several problems in biology and physical sciences. One exciting application is the mathematical modeling of ion channels. Ion channels are proteins with a hole down their middle and serve an important function as gatekeepers for cells.
Czocher's research focuses on mathematical modeling and quantitative reasoning, which are key problem-solving skills for successful interdisciplinary collaboration. However, typical mathematics classes often focus on solving existing mathematics problems without sufficient attention to important aspects of modelling: Formulating mathematical problems to solve, and validating the mathematical models that arise. But STEM students do not easily transfer their knowledge of mathematics concepts and procedures to real-world settings.
Czocher's project will build on the theories and methods developed during her 2018 Australia Endeavour Fellowship at Australian Catholic University to identify scaffolding strategies that best support the growth of STEM students’ modeling skills.