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Faculty Mentors

The Principal Investigators (PIs) on this project bring an ideal mix of mathematical and education research. Dr. Saad El-Zanati serves as the Principal Investigator who oversees the mathematical research aspects of the REU. Dr. David Barker serves as the Co-Principal Investigator who guides the development of the teaching modules and the assessment of project objectives.

Principal Investigators

Dr. El-Zanati is a Distinguished Professor in discrete mathematics with a strong teaching record. He has received several research awards, including the 2002 Hall Medal​ from the Institute for Combinatorics and its Applications, and two university teaching awards. He has about ninety publications and has co-authored about two dozen research articles with undergraduate students and high school teachers. His main research interests are in graph and hypergraph designs, graph labelings, graph factorizations, and vector space partitions.

Dr. Barker was a graduate research assistant for the Connecting Middle School and College Mathematics project, an NSF funded project that developed materials for the mathematical preparation of middle school teachers. This work focused on making connections between the mathematics of the middle school classroom and the college mathematics that would aid teachers in providing instruction. Dr. Barker’s responsibilities included writing the initial draft of the first chapter of the Algebra Connections Book. In addition, Dr. Barker is currently working on research related to how teachers’ draw upon different aspects of their knowledge, including their mathematical knowledge, in the act of teaching. The Co-PI meets regularly with the participants to guide the development of teaching modules. He also is in charge of assessment of project objectives. He develops and administers the Beliefs Survey, conducts interviews with the participants, and reads weekly participant reflections.

Senior Faculty

Participants can expect to work on a variety of projects with two integral associates of the ISU REU: Drs. Ryan Bunge and Daniel Roberts.

Dr. Bunge has been a part of the ISU REU program since its first year. He first started as an in-service teacher participant in 2007 and continued his involvement when he transitioned from teaching high school to teaching at Illinois State University. He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at ISU and started the work that would become his PhD dissertation while at ISU. Be sure to ask him about LaTeX when you’re at the REU.

Dr. Roberts is a math professor at the neighboring Illinois Wesleyan University and has been involved with the ISU REU since 2013. His research interests include graph decompositions and hypergraph decompositions, as well as graph labelings. He thoroughly enjoys involving undergraduates in his research and finds that the time spent during the summer at the REU is a great time to collaborate.

Guest Lectures

A number of the PIs’ colleagues have agreed to guest lecture in the REU program. These include Amin Bahmanian (discrete mathematics), Sunil Chebolu (algebra), Craig Cullen (mathematics education), Heather Jordon (discrete mathematics), Tami Martin (mathematics education), Michael J. Plantholt (discrete mathematics), Dan Roberts (discrete mathematics), Papa Amar Sissokho (discrete mathematics), and Matthew Winsor (mathematics education).

Participants of the REU have unrestricted use of the computing and library facilities at Illinois State University. These facilities are equipped with all the necessary software. ​​​​​

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