Roots of Unity Workshop


  • Please see below for detailed application instructions.
  • The deadline for application is February 28, 2022.



To apply, please submit the following documents:

1. Personal Statement.

Please write a brief (max 5,000 character) statement describing your interest in attending the Roots of Unity workshop. We are interested in understanding how your identities have impacted your mathematical journey, as well as your areas of interest and approximate timeline for choosing an advisor. To the extent that you feel comfortable sharing, please describe your journey, possibly including: your experiences collaborating with, supporting, and being supported by your peers, particularly those from groups marginalized in mathematics, and any obstacles that you have faced. On two separate additional pages in this document (that is not part of the max character count), please provide: (i) a list of the graduate courses you have taken in topics related to the workshop, and (ii) your ranking of topic preferences for the working groups (arithmetic geometry, combinatorics, commutative algebra, geometry, topology).  

2. Resume or CV

3. One letter of reference

One letter of reference from someone who can speak to your potential in your graduate program. Your letter-writer will be emailed instructions on how to upload their letter to MathPrograms. Please email your letter-writer the following sentences: 

I am asking you to provide a brief letter of reference to support my application to the Roots of Unity workshop. This week-long workshop is designed to support women, particularly women of color, who have completed 1–3 years of graduate school and are considering research in algebra, combinatorics, geometry, topology, or number theory. The program would appreciate your candid opinion of me as a student, including in what capacity you have worked with me, my potential for success in my graduate program in the mathematical sciences, how the Roots of Unity workshop might benefit me, and how I will benefit the Roots of Unity workshop. For more information about the workshop, please see the Roots of Unity website

Workshop description

This week-long workshop is designed to support women, particularly women of color, who are in years 1–3 of graduate school and are considering research in algebra, combinatorics, geometry, topology, or number theory.

In a forest, underground mycorrhizal networks connect different tree species through their root systems, allowing for transfer of nutrients (van der Heijden, 2016). These networks also allow trees to communicate about dangers like pests and disease, and they are believed to enhance plant fitness and forest stability. For graduate students, too, a strong network can be critical for success, and such networks are even more important for students from groups that have been historically marginalized. We have designed the Roots of Unity workshop to assist in cultivating strong relationships among the participants, a network — seeded at the workshop and continuing throughout their careers — that will allow students to strengthen and nurture each other.

The transition to independent learning and research is a crucial and often jarring point in every graduate student's career. This transition is even more difficult for students from marginalized groups, who often have smaller support systems and may face an actively unsupportive environment at their institution. The goal of this workshop is to support, mentor, and guide students at this crucial stage in their career. 

During the workshop, mentors will guide the student participants through the (often very daunting!) experience of trying to read a paper without being an expert in the area. The participants will be broken into small working groups, each focused on a recent paper in their area of interest. Each group will be assisted throughout the week by mentors, both early career mathematicians (late stage graduate students or postdocs) and faculty members. 

The professional development component of the Roots of Unity Workshop will focus on practical tools for navigating a research career, while building community and increasing access to professionals or near-peers. These will include in-person panels and activities during the workshop and follow-up (virtual) activities throughout the year to continue nurturing the community and connections.

The program is tailored to support women of color, and our strategies reflect this priority. However, if you are a graduate student in your first three years of study and believe that this workshop will benefit you, please apply. We especially encourage applications from students who are women, nonbinary, and/or gender fluid. 

Applications received by February 28, 2022, will receive full consideration. Application decisions will be sent out no later than March 31, 2022.

Workshop groups

Commutative Algebra
Mentors: Christine Berkesch, Haydee Lindo, Patricia Klein

Mentors: Pamela Harris, Mariel Supina, Isabelle Shankar

Low Dimensional Topology and Geometry 
Mentors: Candice Price, Emille Davie, Sherilyn Tamagawa

Mentors: Autumn Kent, Marissa Loving, Michelle Chu

Arithmetic Geometry 
Mentors: Adriana Salerno, Lori Watson, Allechar Serrano Lopez 

Large group posing for a photo
Start date
Sunday, June 12, 2022, 8 a.m.
End date
Thursday, June 16, 2022, 5 p.m.

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities