Summer 2021: A graphical calculator for Legendrian knots

About the SHUR

We invite Dartmouth undergraduate student applications for a Summer Hybrid Undergraduate Research (SHUR) project during the summer of 2021, at the Dartmouth College Mathematics Department, partially funded by the NSF and the Neukom Institute for Computational Science. Our group will pursue a research project in low-dimensional topology with a computer science component.

Our research group will investigate phenomena in the intersection between low-dimensional topology, the study of objects which are up-to-4–dimensional, and contact geometry, an active branch of mathematics that originated from Hamiltonian mechanics. In particular, we will be studying knots (strings that are tangled up) that satisfy certain natural contact geometric conditions. One avenue of studying such objects is by manipulating their planar diagrams, which, while having produced many fruitful results, is tedious and prone to mistakes when done by hand. Our research group will look into building a graphical user interface (GUI) to automate this process, and hopefully harness this power to produce further results. This research has entry points for students with many different backgrounds and skill sets, and it is super fun! We will also provide professional development opportunities, including discussions with mathematicians on research presentation and writing personal statements.

Students will receive a small stipend. The program starts on June 24 and ends on August 25.

Participants do not need to be on campus for this SHUR. However, in-person activities will also be available if some or all participants are on campus.

How To Apply

Applications should be submitted by email to ina.petkova@dartmouth.edu. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis starting immediately, and until May 31, 2021. The application should include:

  • One reference (list one Dartmouth faculty who can serve as a reference if needed—no letter required at this time)
  • An unofficial transcript.
  • A personal statement listing math courses (with grades), computer science courses (with grades), computer skills, previous research experiences, and explaining why the student wishes to participate in the program.
  • Deadline to apply is May 31, 2021. Decisions will be made by June 3, 2021.

Students from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Program Expectations & Prerequisites

As part of the program, students will attend lectures and discussions led by the faculty on the background of the research topic. After the introduction, students will be presented with concrete, realistic research projects and tasks commensurate with individual interests and strengths, with hands-on guidance by the faculty. Research progress will be assessed throughout the duration of the program, and successful results will be summarized in academic papers and presentations.

This project is suitable for both students interested in research mathematics and students interested in further developing their skills in computer science. Applications from all undergraduate students are welcome, and we especially encourage students from underrepresented groups to apply.


Ina Petkova

Assistant Professor
Department of Mathematics

C.-M. Michael Wong

Lecturer and Research Associate
Department of Mathematics

Ina Petkova is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Dartmouth College, working in low-dimensional topology. Her research is in knot theory, with focus on Heegaard Floer homology. She often uses algebraic techniques for studying the variant of Heegaard Floer homology for knots (knot Floer homology), by cutting a knot into pieces called tangles, and studying the individual pieces and their gluing.

C.-M. Michael Wong is a postdoctoral Lecturer and Research Associate at Dartmouth College. His primary research interest is in low-dimensional topology, and specifically cobordisms of 3-manifolds, knots, links, and tangles. The main tools that he uses are various versions of Floer homology and related invariants. He also studies the connections between Floer theory and contact geometry.

SHUR Participants 2021

Athina Avrantini

Athina is a '23 from Athens, Greece, double majoring in math and computer science. At Dartmouth, she has worked as a math tutor for the Tutoring Clearinghouse as well as a grader for the mathematics department. She is also involved with Dartmouth’s Association of Women in Mathematics. Outside of academics, she enjoys playing chess, reading books, solving sudokus, and practicing aerial yoga and circus.

Bibek Panthi

Bibek is a first year undergraduate student from Nepal at Dartmouth College majoring in Math with a minor in Economics.  At Dartmouth, he is engaged with the first-generation community tutoring through FYSEP and works at the Collis Front Desk. Aside from his interest in Math, he likes rafting, hiking, trekking, sight-seeing, and traveling.

Boxian Wang

Boxian is a rising junior at Dartmouth College, majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. At Dartmouth, he serves as a tutor and TA for several courses in maths and computer science. Outside of academia, he enjoys Renaissance paintings, Baroque music, detective novels and vintage British comedies.