Professor Mark Demers, PhD, will lead undergraduate students in an innovative three-year study on the chaotic properties of dynamical systems.
This grant is a tribute to [Fairfield's] high level of undergraduate student research and an acknowledgement of its successful track record to date.
— Mark Demers, PhD, professor of mathematics
The National Science Foundation (NSF) under the Division of Mathematical Sciences has awarded Fairfield University Mathematics Professor Mark Demers, PhD, a $245,423 grant to support a three-year undergraduate research study in the area of dynamical systems. This is the fourth consecutive NSF grant Dr. Demers has secured for his research in ergodic theory since 2008, a notable achievement as only twenty-seven percent of proposals submitted to the national organization receive funding each year.
The undergraduate research supported by the NSF grant will seek to understand and quantify the chaotic properties of a variety of dynamical systems, a branch of mathematics with close connections to physics that studies models of physical processes (eg. planetary and satellite motion, weather systems, and stock market fluctuations) and how these systems evolve over time. The study will focus on the long-term stability and predictability of these types of systems, which are intimately linked to the development of Chaos Theory.
“Coming from a mathematical perspective, our research goals are to develop analytical tools with which to study these systems and to identify mechanisms that produce regular or chaotic behavior,” Dr. Demers explained. “Specific questions concern the long-term behavior of such systems, their stability under external forces, their behavior when out of equilibrium, and their rate of convergence to equilibrium.”
For eight weeks each summer over the next three years, two undergraduate students from Fairfield’s Mathematics Department will participate in the research study and perform data analysis alongside Dr. Demers. After completing their study, the students will be given the opportunity to attend and present their findings at a variety of regional and national meetings, including the Joint Mathematics Meeting, the largest mathematical conference in the world.
“The fact that Fairfield was awarded this grant is a tribute to our high level of undergraduate student research and an acknowledgement of its successful track record to date,” Demers said. “The grant allows us to recruit and support undergraduate students in research experiences that will encourage them to pursue careers in mathematics and the physical sciences.”