UMN REU student expectations

As participants in the UMN REU, with effort funded by the National Science Foundation, we expect you to spend your full time working on the REU for the full 8 weeks.

We trust you to understand what constitutes full time effort. Your schedules and your time allocations can be flexible. At the risk of being overly prescriptive, here is how a day of work in week 1 of the REU might look:

Here are some more specific expectations, that go along with our typical REU structure/schedule.
  1. Everyone should feel welcome and included. Each student has a responsbility to actively support and include the group. Here are some examples of positive/negative interactions to help you navigate this. If problems, friction, or climate issues develop in your group(s), take action. If you are being harassed, you feel uncomfortable with the way you are being treated, you notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact the REU coordinator or any of the other mentors immediately. If you prefer not to speak in person, you can e-mail us. Any report will be handled with the strictest confidentiality.
  2. We expect students to come to all the REU meetings. If for some reason you may have to miss one, discuss it with the REU coordinator. During those meetings, phones/computers should be off.
  3. Each morning session (after the first one) will begin with 2 presentations by students of an REU exercise. These presentations should last 10 minutes each. Every student should present at least one exercise in the two weeks, and you can email the mentor presenting a problem the next day in advance if you would like to present a problem. We don't intend this to be a source of stress, and are flexible on modes of presentation. For example, it is fine if students worked together and want to present together, with different students explaining different parts. Also, if two students have very different solutions to a problem, we may want to hear both. For problems that nobody solves completely, we would welcome (concise, coherent) presentations of attempts and strategies.
  4. During weeks 1 and 2, students should consider which project paper they would like to present from in Weeks 3 and 4. These papers will be listed in the daily morning presentations, but also posted on the REU site.
  5. In weeks 3 and 4, each student will give a 20 minute presentation on some part of a relevant background paper or source for one of the REU problems. In each case, these student talks should be given as a practice talk to an REU TA first. The TAs assigned to various problems will posted, and it is up to you as the student to talk to your TAs and arrange that practice talk.
  6. The students potentially interested in a problem will be posted. When students meet to talk about a problem, they should make every effort to find times so that everyone interested in the problem can be there. It may happen that people have a conversation about it when others are not there, but then everyone interested in the problem should be brought up to speed on the developments as soon as possible. Use email/Discord/Slack to facilitate this.
  7. The students themselves choose which REU problem(s) they will work on; it is not decided by the mentors or TAs. Students can also change their mind about which ones they are working on during the REU.
  8. There is no right number of problems for a student to work on. However, every student should work seriously on at least one problem, and we do not recommend that they contribute seriously to more than three problems. You are allowed to change which problems you are working on, but as the weeks pass, it is good to settle on at least one where you are committed.
  9. During the REU meetings from roughly week 3 onward, we will regularly ask (with warning) for 5-7 minute project summaries from the various groups. Here is a guide for how those should go.
  10. Each student should contribute substantially to at least one of the REU reports, which receive much focus in weeks 6,7, and are finalized in week 8, after receiving comments from the REU TA(s).
  11. The REU TAs are there to act as sounding boards for your ideas, sources of references, and sometimes they may have good ideas or suggestions. But they are not expected to solve the problems for you!
  12. We do not require that each problem lead to a polished arXiv preprint and submitted journal paper. However, many of them do, and this is encouraged, of course. If the REU report does lead to an arXiv preprint and paper, then we encourage every student who worked on the project to be a co-author. If a student volunteers to withdraw their name as a co-author, this is OK. In some cases, the REU TA(s) and/or project mentor may have contributed substantially to the research and/or the writing, and could potentially also be included.
  13. If you have ideas about how to improve the program, please let the REU coordinator know!

Here is some advice from former mentors, TAs and participants.

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