Recent QCC Graduate Wins Spot in Renowned Mathematical Sciences Research Institute
Students’ Foundation in Mathematics Research began at Queensborough
Jeshu Dastidar, a former Mathematics and Computer Science student now at Queens College, has been selected to participate in the 2017 Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Undergraduate Program (MSRI-UP), which is held each summer at the internationally renowned Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley, CA. The program is designed for undergraduate students who have completed two years of university-level mathematics courses and would like to conduct research in the mathematical sciences.
Jeshu, who obtained his A.A. degree in Liberal Arts in Sciences from Queensborough in the spring of 2016, is one of only 18 students from around the nation from a pool of nearly 500 applicants to be invited to participate in the MSRI-UP. He will be conducting paid summer research alongside with undergraduate students from institutions such as Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Jeshu's only previous experience in mathematics research took place at Queensborough. He conducted undergraduate research with guidance from his mentor, Dr. Yusuf Gurtas, Associate Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science, at Queensborough Community College (CUNY). The research-related courses were established two years ago and are a direct result of the institutionalization of undergraduate research as a High Impact Practice at the College.
“I am extremely proud of Jeshu’s success,” said Dr. Gurtas, who submitted the recommendation letter for Mr. Dastidar's application to MSRI-UP. “From the start of his academic career here at Queensborough he demonstrated tremendous drive to master advanced math concepts.”
Jeshu completed three math classes in linear algebra, calculus, and discrete math, and a research project in number theory under Dr. Gurtas’ supervision from summer 2015 to spring 2016.
“It has been a joy learning new math over the past several years,” said Jeshu. “Conducting research has deepened my perspective on what math is truly about. I am thankful to my professors at Queensborough and at Queens College, and I am especially grateful to Dr. Gurtas for mentorship, even after graduating from Queensborough." Jeshu also expressed his appreciation for the generous time and helpful advice offered by Dr. Robert W. Donley, Assistant Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science.
Dr. Gurtas added, “This is quite an accomplishment and I congratulate our TIMEQCC and undergraduate research programs at Queensborough for encouraging Jeshu to engage in research in mathematics which played a vital role in preparing him to successfully transfer to Queens College. I am also thankful to my fellow colleagues, Dr. Maria Mercedes Franco and Dr. Azita Mayeli, who were instrumental in establishing a research class at our department.”
The Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Queensborough created the MA905 and MA906 research courses in fall 2015. Since then, several faculty members have served as mentors to about 25 research students, guiding them to complete research projects which extend topics in math and computer science beyond the curriculum. These students have presented their work at local (departmental seminars, the annual QCC Honors Conference, and the QCC Undergraduate Research Day) and regional conferences, amounting to well over 30 presentations. Several students have been awarded scholarships for outstanding research work and others have participated in the CUNY Research Scholars Program. In addition, some faculty members have embedded research projects into sections of regular courses (MA 119 College Algebra, CS 203 Algorithmic Problem Solving II, and MA 336 Statistics) thus offering the opportunity to engage in meaningful research to a significantly larger number of students than those who enroll in stand-alone research courses: between Spring 2014 and Fall 2016, about 175 students participated in research in the classroom. The Queensborough Mathematics and Computer Science Department is eagerly pushing forward to foster further success stories of students like these and like Mr. Jeshu Dastidar.