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Whether you like math or not, it’s likely that there’s been a time where you thought it was boring. This summer, however, I had the opportunity to work in the Fluids Lab at UNC’s Math Department. While “doing research” in math may sound like an odd statement, it’s a daily occurrence. Math isn’t confined to textbooks and theoretical problems. In fact, applied mathematics is an entire field of study devoted to understanding real-world phenomena through the precise rigors of math. Scientists give mathematicians fascinating problems to model, such as how an object moves through water, or how a city’s traffic flows, and in turn, mathematicians use their skills to come up with precise models. Once we have models, we can use them to extrapolate and understand the phenomena even more! Since applied math is inherently practical, it is deeply embedded in a number of other fields, including physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, and marine science!

Before moving on to how the Fluids lab relates to motion, you should check out some of the tools of the trade in math research. This is just a sampling of things being used at UNC – it’s just the tip of the iceberg!