About the Lab

MEGL welcomes new members every semester! See key dates here.

Being a part of MEGL gives you the opportunity to participate in active research topics in mathematics. MEGL teams meet weekly with a faculty advisor to address a research problem. Outside of this meeting, MEGL participants have additional team meetings to work toward solving this problem. Often projects utilize coding, 3D printing, or virtual reality. MEGL team members get the chance to present these findings to peers and the Mason math community in the form of a poster session and symposium. For examples of previous presentations, check out the project drop-down menu. The MEGL research experience gives students a safe space to learn how to present mathematical ideas and learn how research happens.

In addition to pursuing answers to research questions, MEGL has an active outreach component. Under the direction of Harry Bray, MEGL members go out into the northern Virginia community and share mathematical concepts in new, fun ways. MEGL outreach feels more like playing games than learning math. Even non-MEGL members are invited to join in on the fun. MEGL Outreach is a great way to try out MEGL before committing to a semester long project. MEGL outreach happens in schools, libraries, and more. Skill levels of students range from elementary to high school. You can find out more about MEGL outreach here.

Finally, being a part of MEGL means being part of a community of mathematicians. Members often hang out in the lab and share tales of mathematical discoveries, hardships, and successes. The MEGL space is equipped with two MakerBot 3D printers, multiple Oculus VR headsets, numerous computers, some with GPUs for parallel computing, two projectors, and more. MEGL is a place where you can make connections that will last beyond MEGL. The lab is a place to get excited about and explore math, make friends, and prepare for life after Mason. Watch the video below to learn more!

Joining MEGL? Here are the details:

  • Accepted interns will register for 3 credits of MATH491 and commit to work 10 hours per week.
    • This includes a weekly 1 hour meeting with your mentor (at a negotiated time) and possibly additional time with the assistant mentor. The rest of the time is devoted to working on the project, either individually or together with the rest of your team.
    • The tasks can include reading research papers, writing code, building visualizations, or perhaps writing your own paper! Students get full access to the lab space and its resources, and often gather there to share ideas with members of other teams.
  • We come together for joint activities three times in the semester:
    • a start-of-semester orientation (first Friday) where we welcome new members, 
    • a mid-semester meeting where each team gives a 5-minute rundown of their plans,
    • and an end-of-semester event (last Friday of the classes)  that combines a public poster session in the morning and an afternoon symposium consisting of 20-minute talks to the math department.
  • At the end of the semester, your team will submit some final documents for the website, and your mentor will assign a grade. Projects may continue for additional semesters, depending on student and mentor availability and enthusiasm.

Geometry Labs United (GLU)

MEGL is part of the the growing network of labs is under the umbrella of a national organization, Geometry Labs United (GLU). It was founded by Sean Lawton, Anton Lukyanenko, and Jayadev Athreya in 2012.

See http://geometrylabs.net/ to learn more about GLU.

We encourage students and faculty from different labs to communicate and collaborate on research, visualization, and outreach.

Our History

The idea of a Geometry Lab is directly inspired by the Geometry Center in Minnesota founded by A. Marden from 1994 to 1998, which produced a wealth of mathematical software (most notably the SnapPea hyperbolic analyzer) and influential mathematical visualizations (most notably, Not Knot, Outside In, and Shape of Space).

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometry_Center and http://www.geom.uiuc.edu/.

The first off-shoot of this, the Experimental Geometry Lab (EGL) at the University of Maryland (UMCP), was founded in 2000 by William Goldman (who was on the Geometry Center’s governing board during its last two years) and Richard Schwartz. It has run since then and most present geometry labs directly trace their origins to EGL.

Sean Lawton completed his doctorate in 2006 at UMCP, and returned in 2008 as a postdoc. His affiliation with the EGL began earlier, while he was a graduate student, helping with numerous outreach activities and managing the lab. He began speaking about “franchising” EGL at that point and began promoting this idea at conferences and during job interviews. During his post-doctoral year with EGL he and then graduate student Ryan Hoban ran an intensive summer REU-type project in the EGL. After that, he moved to the University of Texas (UTRGV) and established the first extension of EGL named the Experimental Algebra & Geometry Lab (EAGL) in 2009. In 2014 he moved to George Mason University (GMU), where he founded the Mason Experimental Geometry Lab (MEGL) with Chris Manon (who has now founded a lab in KY).

Anton Lukyanenko joined the EGL at the end of his freshman year at UMCP, and soon he began supervising projects and administering the lab. After completing his Bachelors degree at UMCP, he stayed on and completed his Masters degree in 2008. He then moved to the doctoral program at the Univerity of Illinois (UIUC) in 2008, where he and Jayadev Athreya established the Illinois Geometry Lab (IGL) in 2011. This was extremely successful with enormous participation from many different faculty members and students. IGL remains the largest and most productive geometry lab in our network of geometry labs. After completing his doctorate in 2014 under Jeremy Tyson (who took over as director of IGL from 2014-2017), Anton moved to the University of Michigan as a postdoc where he started another geometry lab called Laboratory of Geometry at Michigan (LOGM). Jayadev Athreya has since moved to the University of Washington where he started another geometry lab called Washington Experimental Mathematics Lab (WXML).

Read more HERE.