FAQ
Have a question? Contact mahrud@umn.edu.
For Mentors

Why should I mentor a DRP project? All of us had immense help to get where we are today. This may have been through professors, friends, or graduate students, but undeniably it was there. This is a chance to pay it forward to the next generation of mathematics students.

Okay, but do I have the qualifications to advise a DRP project? The only real requirements are that you’re a graduate student, you have a topic that you’re interested in reading about, and that you are willing to put the effort into making your DRP project a success.

How are pairings between mentors and mentees made? Mentors and mentees will be paired primarily based on their desired project topics. Mentees and mentors can then decide after their initial meeting(s) whether their interests and working preferences mesh well.

Are there any resources for working with a mentee? Glad you asked! Contact us! Also, check out the DRP Network’s resources here.

Will I be compensated monetarily or academically for being a DRP mentor? Not at the moment. If you would like to get credits, look into MATH 4991/2/3 or the CLA directed study options.

How can I help? Glad you asked! Please get in touch with Mahrud Sayrafi.
For Mentees

Can I get credit for the DRP? No. If you would like to get credits, look into MATH 4991/2/3 or the CLA directed study options.

Can I apply if I don’t have an idea for a project? Don’t worry! You don’t need to know precisely what you want to do for a project in order to apply. However, the application will ask you for some general topic, direction, or goal for your project. This can be something as vague as “graph theory” or “I want to explore more algebra.” As long as you have some general direction like this, we will do our best to pair you with a graduate student who will help the you solidify your goals and develop a project idea.

What makes a good DRP project? One of the main goals of the DRP is to allow students to explore an area of math that might usually be unavailable to them. The unavailability may either come from the topic being a more advanced/niche version of a topic usually taught (e.g. finite group theory), or may be something for which no existing course covers (e.g. extremal combinatorics). In this sense, any topic, if accompanied by the will to go beyond the usual, makes a good DRP project. That said, the best DRP projects are those with a concrete goal in mind. This goal could be proving a specific theorem, understanding a particular concept, or making an important calculation. So, for example, instead of having “finite group theory” as a project, one would like something similar to “proving the SchurZassenhaus theorem”. Having this main goal in mind not only focuses your learning but also frames the entire project, giving meaning to each seemingly inconsequential lemma, as you work towards your ultimate target. This all said, it is not necessarily important that the mentee know precisely what the specific topic of their project will be at the outset. If a student has a broad idea about the subject he or she wants to study, the specification to a particular DRP project (as discussed in the above question) can be made in the initial consultation with the mentor of the project.

How will I be paired with my mentor? Just as with mentees, graduates students interested in mentoring will fill out an application. On that application, they list the broad topics they’re interested in. Pairings will be made primarily based on these desired topics. Mentees and mentors can then decide after their initial meeting(s) whether their interests and working preferences mesh well.

Do I need to have a background in the subject? Absolutely not. One of the main purposes of the DRP is to pursue math outside of your comfort zone. That said, one should not choose a topic so advanced as to preclude any real learning. One of the main functions of the mentor will be to help guide the mentee towards a project which is both of interest to the mentee and within reason based on the mentee’s current background knowledge.

Is the DRP only for math majors? Definitely not. While the DRP is focused on providing oneonone math education, this does not mean that it is restricted to math majors. In fact, we greatly encourage applications from those who have a passion for learning mathematics but who have only taken intermediatelevel courses.

Are underclassmen allowed to participate in the DRP? As long as someone meets the requirements for participation (as laid out on this page), they are welcome to participate in the program. In fact, the DRP aims to aid students in developing a sense of mathematical selfsufficiency and to facilitate relations between undergraduates with graduate students. Both of these goals are even more effective if they begin as early as possible in one’s mathematical career.

Will my performance in the DRP be available to the public? Not at all. There are no grades or evaluations for performance in the DRP. The only public aspect of the DRP is the presentation at the end of the term, which won’t be recorded or made public beyond the people who attend.

Who decides who is admitted into the DRP? There will be a DRP committee responsible for administrative decisions such as admissions and pairing of mentors and mentees. This DRP committee will consist entirely of volunteer graduate students.