Schafer Prize Awardee announcements

Twenty-First Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize

posted Jan 9, 2011, 6:55 PM by AWM Web Editor   [ updated Aug 1, 2013, 3:25 PM ]

Alice T. Schafer Prize for Excellence in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Woman

 

In 1990, the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) established the Alice T. Schafer Prize for Excellence in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Woman.  The prize is named for former AWM president and one of its founding members, Alice T. Schafer (1915-2009), one of the founders of AWM and its second president, who contributed greatly to women in mathematics throughout her career.  The criteria for selection include, but are not limited to, the quality of the nominees’ performance in mathematics courses and special programs, an exhibition of real interest in mathematics, the ability to do independent work, and, if applicable, performance in mathematical competitions.

 

AWM is pleased to present the twenty-first annual Alice T. Schafer Prize to Sherry Gong, Harvard University.

 

Additionally, the accomplishments of four outstanding young women, all senior mathematics majors, were recognized on Thursday, January 6, 2011. AWM was pleased to honor Ruthi Hortsch, University of Michigan, as runner-up for the 2011 Schafer prize competition.  Jie Geng, University of California, Berkeley, Yinghui Wang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Fan Wei, Massachusetts Institute of Technology were recognized as honorable mention recipients in the Schafer prize competition.  Their citations are available from the AWM.

 

Citation

Sherry Gong

 

Sherry Gong is a senior at Harvard University where her performance in her classes has been outstanding.  She began with Harvard’s famous problem solving class, in which she achieved a score above 100, and since her sophomore year has taken numerous graduate mathematics courses, earning As in all of them.  Whether in a class or independently mastering background for a research project, her recommenders were universally amazed by her ability to master sophisticated mathematics rapidly.

 

Gong has been involved in four different research projects, and is the author or co-author of three papers.  She spent summer 2008 at the Duluth REU researching cyclotomic polynomials; her paper was published in the Journal of Number Theory.  In 2009 she worked with a group at MIT that did research on computing the dimension of the space of characters of the Lie algebra of Hamiltonian vector fields on a symplectic vector space; their work will be published shortly. She and an economist have published a paper in Integers on congruence conditions characterizing primes.  Most recently she did research on periodic cyclic cohomology of group algebras of torsion free groups at Vanderbilt.

 

As a high school student, Gong medaled repeatedly in the International Mathematical Olympiad, winning a gold medal in 2007.  After entering college, she returned to the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program as a grader and also served as a grader for the Mathematical Olympiad of Central America and the Caribbean.  In 2010 Gong served as one of the coaches for the USA team for the China Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad.  Five of the eight girls on the team won gold medals, and the head coach describes Gong as “a young lady with a great heart, thoughtful and gentle,” who pushed the students with “acute mathematical insights and inspiring personality.”

 

Gong’s mentors describe a remarkable young mathematician, exceptionally talented and original, with one commenting she is already "comparable to some of the best mathematical minds I know."

 

Response from Sherry Gong

 

I am deeply honored to be selected to receive Alice T. Schafer Prize. I would like to thank the AWM for inspiring and encouraging women in mathematics. I am grateful to many people who have brought me to this stage mathematically. Thank you to Zuming Feng, for teaching, guiding and encouraging me throughout my high school years. To Dennis Gaitsgory, who has been an amazing teacher and adviser. To Guoliang Yu and Pavel Etingof for guiding me in undergraduate research and sharing with me their penetrating mathematical insights, and in particular, to Joe Gallian who introduced me to the world of mathematical research through his wonderful REU program. I would like to thank the Harvard and MIT mathematics departments for the wisdom and guidance they have shared with me.

 

  

Schafer Prize Runner-up

 

    

Ruthi Hortsch is a senior mathematics major at the University of Michigan, where she has excelled in undergraduate courses and is currently taking second-year graduate mathematics courses. She is a mathematical leader who has served as a peer-tutor, as a course assistant, worked with gifted high school students, and organized a problem solving class. 

 

Hortsch has been involved in three successful mathematics research projects (in addition to doing research in physics).  She worked with a group at Michigan on vertex algebras, and their work has recently appeared in the Journal of Algebra.  She is in the process of preparing for publication her results from a project in which she solved the problem of describing the de Rham cohomology of a particular exceptional curve as a representation for the automorphism group of that curve.  During summer 2010, she solved a challenging problem “initially intended as a possible PhD thesis topic” which drew upon knowledge of number theory, group theory, algebraic geometry, algebraic topology, and complex analysis.  

 

Her recommenders describe her as having “a talent that is already strong,” someone who “keeps getting better and better,” and predict that she “has an exceptional and brilliant career ahead of her.”

 

    Response from Ruthi Hortsch: I am honored to be the runner-up for the Schafer Prize. Thank you to the AWM for this distinction, and for their hard work and dedication to advancing the work of women in mathematics. My deepest thanks to my family, whose love and encouragement has always supported me.

Many people, particularly at the University of Michigan, have provided me with support and while I cannot name them all, my thanks goes to them. I am particularly grateful to Stephen DeBacker, who instilled in me a passion for mathematics and whose advice and encouragement has been integral these past few years. Thank you to Mike Zieve, whose infectious energy has made working on research with him a joy and whose mathematical insights have given me a deeper understanding, to Bryden Cais, whose advice and guidance have shaped my interests, and Djordje Milicevic, whose teaching and care have encouraged and inspired me.

 

Schafer Prize Honorable Mention

 

 

Jie Geng is a senior double majoring in Mathematics and Economics at UC Berkeley. Her coursework is very impressive: she aced both her undergraduate and several graduate mathematics classes, showing broad mathematical interests and abilities. Her recommenders describe her as “terrific and “the best undergraduate I have taught in over two decades at Berkeley and Stanford.”

 

In addition to her outstanding academic performance, Geng has devoted a lot of energy during her undergraduate studies to teaching mathematics, both in China, her country of origin, and at UC Berkeley. She has also been involved in mathematical research, as part of the RIPS (Research in Industrial Projects for Students) program at the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, where she studied the effects of carbon emission penalties on the use of different fuels.

    Response from Jie Geng: I am honored to be selected as an honorable mention for the Schafer Prize. Thank you AWM for supporting women in mathematics. I would like to thank all the professors and other people who have brought me to my mathematical maturity. I would like to thank Professor Pitman and Professor Adhikari for noticing me, bringing me confidence and giving me advice for my pursuit in probability and statistics, and for their dedication to undergraduate teaching. To Mike Leong for introducing me the possibility of doing statistics and training me to become an experienced Math and Stats tutor. To RIPS at UCLA for a wonderful summer research program, especially to Hai Qian for being a responsible and helpful academic mentor. To Baoping Liu, Yuhao Huang, Theo Johnson-Freyd and Michaeel Kazi for being extremely approachable TAs and my role models as young mathematicians. Further thanks the Berkeley mathematics department and statistics department for their incredible range and depth of course offering, guidance and encouragement.

 

Schafer Prize Honorable Mention

 

Yinghui Wang is a senior mathematics and economics major at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has excelled in a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate mathematics classes.  Wang’s recommenders uniformly praised her motivation, mathematical maturity, clear exposition, independence, and creativity.   

 

Wang has been active in three separate research projects though the SPUR and UROP programs at MIT.  Wang’s results from one of those projects, involving the “perfect solution” to a complex analysis problem with important applications in differential equations, has already appeared in the IMA Journal of Numerical Analysis.  Last summer, Wang participated in the SMALL REU at Williams College, where her work generalizing theorems by Zeckendorff and Lekkerkerker for Fibonacci numbers has led to three articles that are expected to appear in strong journals.  Moreover, her presentation of these results at Ohio State’s Young Mathematicians Conference last August was recognized with the top prize, and she has been invited to speak on this work at an AMS Sectional meeting.

 

    Resonse from Yinghui Wang:  I am very honored to be a Honorable Mention of the Alice T. Schafer Prize. Thanks to the AWM for this award and for their invaluable effort in encouragement and recognition of women in mathematics. I would like to thank all teachers who have guided, helped and nurtured me in mathematics, especially my advisor Ju-Lee Kim, David Jerison, Steven J. Miller, Richard Stanley and Gilbert Strang. I am also very grateful to the MIT mathematics department for providing an inspiring and wonderful environment in which I could pursue my love in mathematics. Finally, I would like to thank my parents for their constant and unconditional support to me.

 

Schafer Prize Honorable Mention

 

Fan Wei is a junior mathematics major at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to her outstanding coursework and successful mathematical competition career, she is already an accomplished researcher, having worked on a number of projects. Wei’s recommenders describe her as a very quick learner, “very impressive,” with a “bright future as a research mathematician.”

 

One of Wei’s research projects relates to the weak Bruhat order and separable permutations, and was presented at the Permutation Patterns conference, where it was “enthusiastically received” and “stirred up a lot of interest.” The subsequent paper will be submitted to the proceedings of the conference. Wei’s other project, on the splitting fields of generalized Rikuna polynomials, was completed while she was a participant in the SMALL REU at Williams College. Wei is described as having been “an essential part” of the group of students in charge of the project, which, once the writing is completed, will be submitted for publication.

 

    Response from Fan Wei: I am very honored and grateful to receive the certificate of Honorable Mention for the Alice T. Schafer Prize. It is a great encouragement for me and I would like to thank AWM for providing this award and including me as part of its honor.  I owe thanks to my mom and dad for their constantly love, understanding, and tolerance. My home has always been my motivation and will always be. I also want to express my thankfulness to Prof. Stanley for his nomination and being such a nice advisor and teacher. He guided my first math research and gave me my first impression of the math community.

   I want to thank Williams College SMALL REU, my advisor Prof. Pacelli, and my teammates for giving me such a great summer experience. I am also grateful to MIT math department, especially Prof. Artin, Prof. Edelman, David Jordan, Prof. Kumar, and also Prof. Brams at New York University for their great help, patience, and support. I also thank all my friends for giving me the second family. I am lucky to know all of them.

Twentieth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize

posted Jul 9, 2010, 6:31 PM by Glenna Buford

In 1990, the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) established the Alice T. Schafer Prize for Excellence in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Woman. The prize is named for former AWM president and one of its founding members, Alice T. Schafer (professor emeritus from Wellesley College), who has contributed a great deal to women in mathematics throughout her career. The criteria for selection include, but are not limited to, the quality of the nominees' performance in mathematics courses and special programs, an exhibition of real interest in mathematics, the ability to do independent work, and, if applicable, performance in mathematical competitions.

AWM is pleased to present the twentieth annual Alice T. Schafer Prize to the co-winners Hannah Alpert, University of Chicago, and Charmaine Sia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Additionally, the accomplishments of three outstanding young women, all senior mathematics majors, were recognized on Wednesday, January 13, 2010. AWM was pleased to honor Anna Lieb, University of Colorado, Boulder, as runner-up for the 2010 Schafer prize competition. Megan Bernstein, University of California, Berkeley, Ruthi Hortsch, University of Michigan, and Laura Starkston, Harvard University were recognized as honorable mention recipients in the Schafer prize competition. Their citations are available from the AWM.



Schafer Prize Co-Winner: Hannah Alpert

Hannah Alpert, a junior at the University of Chicago and a Goldwater scholar, approaches mathematics "with great conceptual understanding and a fierce tenacity." Her performance in her classes has been superb. She began her research career even before she started college, co-authoring a paper on topological graph theory. After her first year in college, Alpert attended the Willamette Valley Research Experience for Undergraduates, where her rapid resolution of suggested problems drove her supervisor to present more. Her (co-authored) paper on obstacle numbers of graphs has been accepted; the corresponding poster presentation was awarded an MAA Undergraduate Poster Session prize in 2009.

Alpert spent summer 2009 at the Duluth REU. Remarkably, she has written and submitted for publication three sole-authored papers in three different areas based on her work there. In one, she determined the $k$-ranking numbers of 3 by $n$ grid graphs, using "innovative" methods that also "give tremendous insight into the general case." She has been invited to present the results of another, on finite phase transitions in countable abelian groups, in a graduate seminar.

Alpert's mentors paint a consistent picture of a remarkably mature young mathematician, one who is a creative problem solver with a "formidable talent." Over and over, she has solved challenging open problems in elegant and fully original ways. One letter writer compares her to a Nobel Prize winner he taught; others describe her as "incredible," "fantastic," and "destined to become a first-rate mathematician."

Response from Hannah Alpert

     I would like to thank the AWM for selecting me this year as a co-winner of the Schafer Prize. The award represents the efforts of many advisers who have advocated for me and insisted that all the best opportunities be open to me. Most of all I am grateful to Sarah-Marie Belcastro, for many years of work aggressively supporting my mathematical education. Joe Gallian, Josh Laison, and Paul Sally have also worked hard on my behalf. I am glad their efforts are being recognized in this prize, and I am confident that they will continue to render mathematics careers more and more accessible to young women.


Schafer Prize Co-Winner: Charmaine Sia

Charmaine Sia is a senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she has excelled in both undergraduate and graduate classes. She has a perfect undergraduate transcript. To quote one of her recommenders, “Charmaine absorbs mathematics like a sponge.” Another one writes, “I have never seen a student with as voracious an appetite for knowledge.”

In addition to her academic performance, Sia is also an expert contest-taker with three bronze medals at the International Mathematical Olympiad and a top 75 ranking in the Putnam Mathematical Competition. In her three years as an undergraduate, Sia has already gained extensive research experience. She has written four papers, two of which are single-authored. Sia has spent the past three summers in undergraduate research programs, starting with SPUR at MIT in 2007, where she won the prize for best research in the program for her work on zero-sum problems in finite group theory. The next summer she participated in the Duluth REU program, where she wrote two papers, one on classifying the orbits of special groups under the Hurwitz action, and the other on game chromatic numbers of products of graphs. Both papers have been published in professional journals. In the summer of 2009, Sia participated in the SMALL research program at Williams College, where she co-authored two papers on knot theory. She was in charge of one of these papers. Her mentor there writes, “Charmaine single-handedly made rigorous the very difficult collection of ideas that we discussed, but as a group understood incompletely. […] she did a better job […] than I could have done myself.”

Sia is, in the words of her teachers and mentors, an “astonishing” student who “has distinguished herself in every possible way” and “already a mature mathematician” with “immense potential.” She is expected to become an outstanding research mathematician.

Response from Charmaine Sia

     I am very honored to be a co-winner of the Alice T. Schafer Prize. I would like to thank the AWM for their invaluable role in encouraging and supporting women in mathematics. I am grateful to several people who have guided, encouraged, and supported me thus far. I would first like to thank my family, who has constantly supported my pursuit of mathematics. I thank my instructors in the Singapore IMO program for nurturing my interest in mathematics. I also thank Hoda Bidkhori, who provided much guidance and encouragement on my first research paper at SPUR. I am especially grateful to Joe Gallian and Colin Adams for their wonderful REU programs in Duluth and Williams College respectively, which gave me the opportunity to interact with other extremely talented mathematics students there. Finally, I would like to thank the many people, in particular the MIT mathematics department, who generously shared their wisdom and knowledge with me, and from whom I benefited immensely.

Nineteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize

posted Jul 9, 2010, 6:30 PM by Glenna Buford

January 2009, Washington DC

In 1990, the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) established the annual Alice T. Schafer Prize for excellence in mathematics by an undergraduate woman. The prize is named for former AWM president and one of its founding members, Alice T. Schafer (Professor Emerita from Wellesley College), who has contributed a great deal to women in mathematics throughout her career. The criteria for selection includes, but is not limited to, the quality of the nominees' performance in mathematics courses and special programs, an exhibition of real interest in mathematics, the ability to do independent work, and if applicable, performance in mathematical competitions.

AWM is pleased to present the Nineteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize to Maria Monks , Massachusetts Institute of Technology

AWM was further pleased to recognize Doris Dobi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nicole Larsen, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Ila Varma, Caltech, as an honorable mention recipient in the Schafer Prize competition.



Schafer Prize Winner: Maria Monks

Maria Monks a junior mathematics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has already written six research papers; one has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Combinatorial Theory Series A, three have been submitted to leading research journals, and the other two are in nearly final form. On five of these six papers she is the sol author. Her outstanding work is already so widely known in the mathematical research community that she gets invitations to speak at mathematics meetings and in research departments. At the same time, Monks does exceptional work in her classes at MIT and has achieved a perfect grade point average. She has furthermore contributed phenomenal service to the mathematics community, for example by coaching the USA China Girls’ Math Olympiad team.

Monks wrote her first research paper while in high school and has since worked on diverse topics in combinatorics and number theory. She has impressed her recommenders with her amazing growth as a research mathematician. One of her projects concerns Freeman Dyson’s partition ranks and has earned her such praise as “dramatically beautiful” and “really sensational”. A key consequence of her work is a fully combinatorial explanation of the fact that Q(n), the number of partitions of n into distinct parts, is divisible by 4 for almost every n. One of her recommenders writes that this work is “right in the mainstream of a really hot area” and “reveals […] startling insight.”

Maria Monks’ outstanding research abilities, her exceptional course work and her great leadership in the mathematics community make her this year’s winner of the Schafer prize.

Response from Maria Monks

     I am very honored to receive the 2009 Alice T. Schafer Prize. I am grateful to the Association for Women in Mathematics for their encouragement and recognition of women in mathematics. Many people have helped make my mathematical journey possible thus far. First and foremost, I thank my father, Ken Monks, for his continual support and encouragement in all of my mathematical endeavors. He opened my eyes to the beauty of mathematics and served as a coach, teacher and mentor throughout my childhood, inspiring me to pursue my love of mathematics to the best of my ability. I am also grateful for the love and support of my mother, Gina Monks, and my brothers, Ken and Keenan Monks, and I am thankful for the countless mathematical discussions and problem-solving sessions that our entire family has had together.

     I thank Joe Gallian for nominating me for this prize and for his mentorship at the Duluth REU in the summers of 2007 and 2008. I also thank Ricky Liu, Reid Barton, and Nathan Kaplan for their help, insights, and proofreading of my papers at the Duluth REU. I am grateful for Ken Ono's help and direction during my visit to Madison in the summer of 2008. I also thank Zuming Feng for giving me the opportunity to be a coach of the Girls' Math Olympiad team this year. Finally, thanks to my teachers at MIT for making college a wonderful educational experience so far.


Schafer Prize Honorable Mention: Doris Dobi

Doris Dobi is a senior mathematics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has done research in two summer REU programs, applying quaternion arithmetic to billiards on a tetrahedron, and investigating a generalization of a problem of Kaneko and Zagier concerning supersingular elliptic curves. The latter research project led to a paper that has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Number Theory. One of her recommenders describes the work as “highly nontrivial” and says she “has the ability to digest deep material and ask the ‘right natural’ questions.”

One of Dobi’s professors describes her as “extremely devoted to mathematics,” and more than half her coursework at MIT is in mathematics courses.

Response from Doris Dobi

     I am honored to be recognized as an honorable mention for the Alice T. Schafer Prize from the Association for Women in Mathematics. I would like to thank AWM for their continuing encouragement, recognition and support of women in mathematics. I would also like to thank the MIT math department for providing a stimulating, challenging and exciting environment in which to do mathematics. I would like to thank my advisor Professor. Richard Stanley for his guidance throughout my undergraduate career. I would also like to thank Professor. Victor Guillemin for his support and belief in my abilities. Professor Steven Kleiman has also given his time to help me with my graduate school decisions; for this I am very grateful. Prof. Ken Ono's REU in Drinfel'd Modules proved to be a rewarding and memorable experience, and I thank him for his devotion to this program and to the students he mentors. Primarily, I would like to thank my parents and my brother Kledin for their unbounded faith and vision.

 


Schafer Prize Honorable Mention: Nicole Larsen

Nicole Larsen is a senior at the Georgia Institute of Technology with majors in both applied mathematics and physics. As “one of the top undergraduates at Tech,” she was awarded an Astronaut Foundation Fellowship for her outstanding academic performance. She has been involved in two research projects: one on enumerating pseudoknotted RNA secondary structures, the results of which are being prepared for submission, and another in physics.

Larsen has also been active in the mathematics community at Tech. She has been an undergraduate teaching assistant for several semesters and was the only undergraduate judge for the 2008 Georgia Tech High School Math Competition. Her professors describe her as “top-notch” and a “natural leader”; one adds that Larsen's “talent for mathematics and physics, and her drive to succeed, know few bounds.”

Response from Nicole Larsen

    I am tremendously proud and grateful to be this year's Honorable Mention for the Alice T. Schafer Prize. It is a great honor to be recognized by the Association of Women in Mathematics. The support and encouragement that they provide for women mathematicians is invaluable, and I am excited to be a part of this wonderful tradition. My warmest thanks go out to the AWM for this opportunity and for their commitment to this field. I would also like to thank my college, the Georgia Institute of Technology, for providing an environment in which I could learn and grow as a mathematician. The classes that I have taken and my interactions with the professors here have only served to increase my passion for mathematics. In particular, I would like to thank Dr. Christine Heitsch of the Georgia Tech School of Mathematics for introducing me to mathematical research and for her invaluable support and advice throughout the past two years. I am also thankful to Dr Michael Lacey for his guidance and support, and to Dr. James Gole (of the Georgia Tech School of Physics) and Dr. Julia Thom (of Cornell University), both of whom mentored me and gave me the opportunity to do research in areas outside mathematics. Finally, I would like to thank my family for their constant love and support, and for always pushing me to succeed. It is through my parents that I first learned the importance of learning.


Schafer Prize Honorable Mention: Ila Varma

Ila Varma is a senior at Caltech who since her freshmen year has held Caltech’s prestigious President’s Fellowship for her academic breadth and diversity. Varma’s outstanding course work, demonstrated both by the number and variety of her classes as well as through her excellent grades has prompted her professors to pronounce her the “best senior in pure mathematics at Caltech”.

Varma has worked on two summer research projects: One project focused on finding mathematical models for simulating the neuronal networks in insects, in particular relating with their odor sensory. In another project, Varma has worked on a new method for explicitly calculating class numbers for Abelian extensions over imaginary quadratic fields. She is hoping to publish her findings in a mathematics research journal.

Varma’s professors judge her “already better than many of the graduate students at Caltech”, “very motivated”, and in summary “a fantastic, budding mathematician”.

Response from Ila Varma

    I am very honored to receive the certificate of Honorable Mention for the Alice T. Schafer Prize. I would like to thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for this award as well as for recognizing outstanding female mathematicians and encouraging a strong community of women in mathematics. The generous support I have received from family, friends, and teachers has been invaluable to me, and I am lucky to have been surrounded by extraordinary mentors and peers during all stages of my life. In particular, I would like to thank Professor Dinakar Ramakrishnan for his continued encouragement and guidance throughout my time at Caltech. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Professor Matthias Flach for giving me the opportunity to do this wonderful project in number theory and to Professors Tom Graber and Elena Mantovan who have challenged and engaged me in their courses this past year. I am incredibly grateful for the support from Professor Glenn Stevens. His PROMYS program opened my eyes to pure mathematics as a high school student, and each summer, I continue to find more reasons to spend my life studying this beautiful subject. Finally, I would like to thank my parents. My mother is an incredible source of inspiration for me, and my father motivates me to constantly work hard and persist through all my endeavors. Words cannot express my appreciation for their unconditional support and encouragement.

Eighteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize

posted Jul 9, 2010, 6:27 PM by Glenna Buford

January 2008, San Diego, CA

In 1990, the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) established the annual Alice T. Schafer Prize for excellence in mathematics by an undergraduate woman. The prize is named for former AWM president and one of its founding members, Alice T. Schafer (Professor Emerita from Wellesley College), who has contributed a great deal to women in mathematics throughout her career. The criteria for selection includes, but is not limited to, the quality of the nominees' performance in mathematics courses and special programs, an exhibition of real interest in mathematics, the ability to do independent work, and if applicable, performance in mathematical competitions.

AWM is pleased to present the Eighteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize to Galyna Dobrovolska , Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Alison Miller, Harvard University.

AWM was further pleased to recognize Naomi Brownstein, University of Central Florida, Reagin Taylor McNeill, Smith College, and Mary Wootters, Swarthmore College, as an honorable mention recipient in the Schafer Prize competition.



Schafer Prize Co-Winner: Galyna Dobrovolska

Galyna Dobrovolska is a senior who is an outstanding mathematics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her coursework there has been exceptional: she has exhausted the undergraduate offerings in the Mathematics Department while earning the highest possible grade in every class. Dobrovolska is now moving through the graduate mathematics curriculum at MIT with the same success.

Dobrovolska has further distinguished herself through her impressive and original mathematical research. Her research is focused in algebra, and would be considered broad even for a mathematician much further along in their career. Her research in algebraic combinatorics has resulted in a co-authored publication solving the Support Containment Conjecture. This paper resolves a significant open problem, and as such has drawn notice from researchers in the field. Dobrovolska is currently pursuing an active research program in the theory of lower central series quotients of an associative algebra. Here she has, yet again, already obtained impressive theoretical results in confirming a conjecture of Feigin and Shoikhet.

In addition to winning a gold medal at the International Mathematics Olympiad, Dobrovolska won the top prize in 2006 in the Summer Program of Undergraduate Research at MIT. Her ingenious solutions to difficult problems have earned her descriptions as “a star student” and “absolutely outstanding.”

Response from Galyna Dobrovolska

I am greatly honored to be a co-winner of the Alice T. Schafer prize this year, and I would like to thank AWM for this honor.

     I am thankful to Professor Pavel Etingof for doing research with me and nominating me for this prize. I would like to thank Professor Michael Artin for teaching Algebra so inspirationally and for directing me to do research with Professor Etingof. I would also like to thank Professor Victor Guillemin for his support and advice to continue working on my research this summer. I want to thank Pavlo Pylyavskyy who did research with me during the SPUR program at MIT. I am very thankful to my high school mathematics teacher Mikhail Yakir and his student Maksym Fedorchuk for encouraging me to apply to MIT from Ukraine. I am also grateful to Mikhail Yakir because he taught me mathematics which enabled me to go to the IMO and win a gold medal so that I could come to study to MIT. Finally, I want to thank my parents for their support and patience with me in every stage of my life.


Schafer Prize Co-Winner: Alison Miller

Alison Miller is a senior at Harvard University and has already published important research in number theory. She was a member of the 2004 United States International Mathematical Olympiad team, and was the first ever U.S. female to win a gold medal at the IMO. She won the Elizabeth Lowell Putnam award for outstanding performance by a woman in the Putnam Competition in 2005 and 2006.

In the summer of 2006, Miller participated in an REU at the University of Wisconsin, where she coauthored two papers on infinite product expansions of modular forms. The first of these papers, which answered a deep and difficult question originating in the Fields Medal work of Borcherds, has appeared in theProceedings of the American Mathematical Society. The second paper, currently in preprint form, is expected to be very influential in this area of number theory.

In the summer of 2007, Miller wrote an independent research paper on the superpattern problem as part of an REU program at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. In this paper she developed a new technique and used it to solve a problem that had been open, and widely discussed, since 2002. Her work has been cited as “the best thing that happened to our field since November 2003.”

Response from Alison Miller

I am very honored to have been chosen as a cowinner of the AWM Schafer Prize. I wish to thank the AWM; not only for this prize, but for everything else they have done to encourage women in their mathematical endeavors.

     I have been blessed with many teachers and peers from whom I have learned much, and I would like to thank the many people who have helped me get this far on my mathematical journey. First, my parents, who encouraged my mathematical explorations from the beginning. I also thank my instructors and classmates at the Math Olympiad Program who showed me so much mathematics as a high school student. I thank Joe Gallian for giving me an engaging problem to spend a summer thinking about, and for his ongoing encouragement. I also thank Ken Ono for an unforgettable REU experience from which I learned a lot. I must also thank all my advisors and peers at both REUs, particularly my co-authors at the Madison REU, Carl Erickson and Aaron Pixton. As well, I thank everyone in the Harvard math department for their inspiration and support, and for all I have learned. I am especially indebted to Wilfried Schmid for providing me with a solid base from which to start my mathematical explorations, and to Elizabeth Denne for her encouragement and support.


Schafer Prize Honorable Mention: Naomi Brownstein

Naomi Brownstein is a senior at the University of Central Florida, pursuing Bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and Actuarial Science. In addition to a record of outstanding course work at the University of Central Florida, she worked on complex problems in several Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) programs. This work has resulted in an original research publication as well as invitations to speak at conferences. Her intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm and motivation have been further rewarded with an Honorable Mention Citation from the Barry M. Goldwater Foundation.

During her REU experience at the University of North Carolina, Brownstein investigated properties of partial words; in particular she and her co-worker explored the concept of unavoidability. Their original and ingenious work resulted both in a published paper and a preprint that has been submitted to a refereed journal. Brownstein demonstrates great enthusiasm and excitement towards mathematics, as well as an impressive amount of intellectual curiosity and drive. In the words of one of her recommenders: “Brownstein was born to do mathematics.”

Response from Naomi Brownstein

     First of all, I would like to thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for recognizing outstanding female mathematicians. I am honored to be this year’s Honorable Mention recipient. It is humbling to be recognized among so many talented female undergraduate mathematicians. I would like to acknowledge the University of Central Florida for its generous financial, academic, professional, and emotional support throughout my undergraduate career. Thank you to Lisa Sklar and Kelly Astro of the Burnett Honors College for guiding me into these research opportunities. I would also like to recognize to Dr. Pensky for her constant academic and personal support throughout our research over the past two and a half years. Her patience and guidance has undoubtedly been a critical component of my mathematical development. Thank you to my REU professors, Dr. Doytchinov and Dr. Blanchet- Sadri, for challenging and supporting me throughout the summers. Further, thank you to Dr. Blanchet-Sadri for pushing me to always work hard, persist, and especially, to apply for this very award. Finally, I am grateful to my family for their constant unconditional love and encouragement, now and always.

 


Schafer Prize Honorable Mention: Reagin Taylor McNeill

Reagin Taylor McNeill is a senior mathematics and astronomy major at Smith College, where she is writing an undergraduate honors thesis on knot theory. During her time at Smith she has impressed her professors with the depth of her understanding, her mathematically adventurous spirit, and her rapid progress through and beyond their curriculum. Her recommenders describe watching McNeill “fall in love with mathematics” during her undergraduate years and confirm that her performance has matched her ambitions. She plans to enroll in a Ph.D. program in mathematics next year.

In the summer of 2007, McNeill was selected to participate in the Oregon State University REU in Mathematics. There she was one of a group of three students who found explicit constructions of normal subgroups of the free group on two generators avoiding certain words. These results have been described as "enormous progress" towards the goal of finding finite index covers of the figureeight space in which a given word does not lift to a loop. McNeill spent the summer of 2006 doing research as well, but in astronomy, at an REU at the Lowell Observatory. There she did exploratory data analysis for several different projects; her advisor describes her as a “real colleague,” and two papers co-authored by McNeill have been accepted for publication.

Response from Reagin Taylor McNeill

    I am incredibly pleased to receive honorable mention for the Alice T. Schafer Prize. Having been an undergraduate at a women’s college I have seen the difference having a community of women doing mathematics has made in the confidence I have in my mathematical ability. The importance of promoting women in the sciences and mathematics is greatly underestimated. I would like to thank the AWM for providing encouragement to women in math, particularly to those women just starting their mathematical careers. I am very grateful for their support. I would like to thank my family in the Smith College math department. My professors and peers have consistently challenged me to attempt beyond what I believed I was capable of achieving and have been endlessly supportive in seeing that I accomplish what I set for myself. I have been extraordinarily lucky to live and work in such an ideal environment these four years. I would also like to thank my research advisors. Their excitement and creativity with their work has truly inspired me. These research experiences have not just showed me how to do mathematics. They have shaped the way I communicate about mathematics, both in my enthusiasm for the subject and my appreciation the views of others. 


Schafer Prize Honorable Mention: Mary Wootters

Mary Wootters is a senior at Swarthmore College, where she is in the honors program in both mathematics and computer science. She has taken many upperlevel mathematics classes and has impressed her instructors with her insight, creativity, and diligence, as well as her love of thinking and doing mathematics. She spent the Fall of 2006 in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program. 

In the summer of 2006, Wootters was awarded a research fellowship from Swarthmore College, and obtained some ingenious original results on configuration spaces of linkages. She presented this work in a talk at the 2007 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics at the University of Nebraska. In the summer of 2007, she was selected to participate in the SMALL REU at Williams College. There she worked on three projects in knot theory, all of which are being written up for publication in mathematics research journals. She presented her work on alpha-regular stick knots at MathFest 2007 in San Jose, where she won a prize for the quality of her research and its presentation.

Response from Mary Wootters

    I am honored to be selected as an honorable mention for this year's Schafer Prize, and I thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for everything they do to encourage and support young women in mathematics. I would also like to thank the Swarthmore math department, which has been supportive and inspiring throughout my math education; in particular I would like to thank Professor Don Shimamoto and also Professor Colin Adams at Williams College for giving me opportunities to do research and for guiding me through it.

Seventeenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize

posted Jul 9, 2010, 6:25 PM by Glenna Buford

January 2007, New Orleans, LA

In 1990, the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) established the annual Alice T. Schafer Prize for excellence in mathematics by an undergraduate woman. The prize is named for former AWM president and one of its founding members, Alice T. Schafer (Professor Emerita from Wellesley College), who has contributed a great deal to women in mathematics throughout her career. The criteria for selection includes, but is not limited to, the quality of the nominees' performance in mathematics courses and special programs, an exhibition of real interest in mathematics, the ability to do independent work, and if applicable, performance in mathematical competitions.

AWM is pleased to present the Seventeenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize to Ana Caraiani, Princeton University.

Additionally, AWM was pleased to recognize Tamara Broderick, Princeton University,  and Yaim Cooper, MIT, who were selected as runners-up in the Schafer Prize competition. AWM was further pleased to recognize Alyson Deines, Kansas State University as an honorable mention recipient in the Schafer Prize competition.



Schafer Prize Winner: Ana Caraiani

Ana Caraiani is a senior at Princeton University, and she is already conducting professional-level mathematical research. In the summers of 2005 and 2006, Caraiani participated in the REU program at the University of Minnesota at Duluth. She worked independently on a project on semigroups of rational numbers, related to the 3x + 1 problem. Her work on this problem is highly praised. The resulting paper, “On Wild Semigroups,” introduces new ideas that exhibit significant ingenuity.

Caraiani’s coursework at Princeton has been remarkable. She has done very well in extremely difficult classes, and is noted for her independence and mathematical sophistication. One professor has said that her work “made you think that it was a professional mathematician who was answering the problems.”  Another professor rates her among the top undergraduate mathematics majors in fifty years at Princeton.

Caraiani has won the William Lowell Putnam competition twice, scoring among the top five competitors in both her freshman and sophomore years, and is the only woman ever to have done so. The Princeton math department awarded her the Class of 1861 Prize her sophomore year and the Andrew H. Brown prize for outstanding juniors. She is expected to become a major mathematical figure and a world class research mathematician.

Response from Ana Caraiani

I am extremely honored to receive the Alice T. Schafer Prize and to be recognized along with so many distinguished women in mathematics. I would like to thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for inspiring women to excel in math. This award has certainly encouraged me to aim higher and to set new standards for my work in the hope that I would live up to the expectations associated with such an honor.

     I would not have made it this far without the support of many people over the last several years. I would first like to thank my math teacher, Liana Manu, for nurturing my interest in math before and throughout high school. I am also very grateful to Joe Gallian for inviting me to his REU in Duluth, finding the best suited problem for me, and for believing in my abilities even more than I did. The Princeton math department has provided the best environment I could have asked for in which to learn math. I am especially grateful to Robert Gunning for introducing me to an amazing new field and letting me share in his enthusiasm for its elegance. I would like to extend my deepest thanks to Andrew Wiles for entrusting me with a senior thesis problem and for all of his support and guidance in approaching it. I am also indebted to John Conway for suggesting an exciting problem for my junior paper and to William Browder for a challenging yet rewarding reading course. There are many other professors at Princeton whose excellent teaching and encouragement have been indispensable and I thank them all.


Schafer Prize Runner-Up: Tamara Broderick

Tamara Broderick is a senior at Princeton University. A Goldwater scholar, Broderick was awarded the George B. Wood Legacy Sophomore Prize for her exceptional achievements during her sophomore year, and the Princeton Class of 1939 Prize at the end of her junior year for achieving the highest standing in all preceding college work at Princeton. She is described by her professors as “one of the very, very best,” “extraordinarily talented and intelligent,” “bursting with drive, energy and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.”

For her junior paper at Princeton, Broderick developed a mathematical model of animal movement based on radio telemetry data, and she is currently engaged in research on drifting games.

In the summers of her sophomore and junior years, Broderick participated in the Director’s Summer Program at the National Security Agency and worked on problems involving cryptoanalysis, data mining, combinatorics, statistics and numerical analysis. She quickly emerged as a team leader in each problem she attacked, and as a result she published two internal classified papers each summer at NSA. Being the outstanding problem solver amongst all participants, Broderick was selected, after her first summer at NSA, to represent the United States during the following summer at a student exchange program with the GCHQ, an intelligence and security organization in the United Kingdom. A correspondent from GCHQ comments that Broderick’s work “will no doubt shape further work by GCHQ analysts”. 

In addition to being an outstanding mathematician, Broderick serves as a leader in numerous math-related activities at Princeton; amongst others she is the current president of the Math Club. Broderick’s professors predict she will have an extraordinary career arc in mathematics.

Response from Tamara Broderick

I am honored and excited to be selected as a Runner-Up for the Alice T. Schafer Prize. My thanks go first and foremost to the AWM not only for their recognition but also for their wonderful encouragement of women in mathematics by means of concrete and far-reaching initiatives.

I was lucky enough to have female mathematicians showing me the ropes from the very beginning. My gratitude goes out to my middle school math teacher Ms. Vega for seeing early potential, to Ellen Stenson for coming to my high school and giving us a multivariable calculus class, to Ingrid Daubechies for agreeing to be our Princeton Math Club faculty adviser, and to countless other female mentors and role models. I would also like to thank Reza Beigi and Jeanne Stephens for their unfailing encouragement of my pusuit of mathematics though their fields are, respectively, physics and English, Elias Stein for his amazing and beloved analysis series at Princeton, and all of the good mathematics teachers from whom I have had the pleasure of learning. Finally, I am deeply grateful to Robert Schapire for his clear and thoughtful classroom instruction, endless research guidance, and boundless support for this aspiring mathematician.

I’ve always had the sense that there was something both magical and powerful to mathematics, and I am lucky to have so many people and opportunities to regularly refresh my sense of wonder at the field.

 


Schafer Prize Runner-Up: Yaim Cooper

Yaim Cooper is a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her outstanding success in a vast array of both undergraduate and graduate mathematics courses has been augmented by her research at the Louisiana State University and the University of Wisconsin REUs. Cooper’s “exceptional vigor and zeal” for mathematics becomes apparent with her achievements.

At the LSU REU, Cooper investigated the Ihara zeta function of a graph. Impressively, under a non-partiteness condition, she gave an elementary proof of a theorem due to Bass and generalized an important example appearing in a doctoral dissertation. She has submitted her results for publication in a major combinatorics journal. Showing her breadth, Cooper's research at the Wisconsin REU focussed on the completely different mathematical area of modular forms.  Her REU team was asked to generalize a theorem of Serre on congruence properties of the classical j-function. Led by Cooper they “nicely obtained what is surely the best generalization.” Their significant joint paper is expected to appear in an international number theory journal. Cooper is also active in the undergraduate math club and has started two new lecture series at MIT.

Response from Yaim Cooper

I am honored to have been selected as a runner-up for the Alice T. Schafer prize. However much of the recognition should be directed at the people who have helped me along the way. First, I thank my parents, for giving me so many opportunities. I’d like to also thank Professor Lee Stout, who helped me far beyond what was required of him, and helped me learn and love math during my critical high school years. I was lucky to spend two wonderful summers doing math research, and am grateful to Professors Robert Perlis and Ken Ono for giving me a delightful introduction to math research, and the interesting topics they guided me to. I also must thank my peers at both REUs, in particular my coauthors from last summer, Nick Wage and Irena Wang. At MIT, Professor Pavel Etingof has been a wonderful advisor, and I thank Professor Steven Kleiman for introducing me to commutative algebra and algebraic geometry, in such a way that has made me want to learn a lot more of it! 


Schafer Prize Honorable Mention: Alyson Deines

Alyson Deines is a senior math major at Kansas State University. Her mathematical maturity, talent, energy, and initiative have been demonstrated by the many activities and research projects in which she has participated and excelled. 

In 2005, Deines participated in the Budapest Semesters in Math program and in the REU program at the University of Nebraska. Her team of three students at the Nebraska REU worked on a mathematical biology problem involving the population dynamics of peregrine falcons. This work has been submitted to a journal on ecology and has been presented at several meetings. In 2006, Deines took part in the Director’s Summer Program at the National Security Agency. In this program, she was the leader of a group of students working on a problem of statistical regression of real-time streaming data. Her team developed an extremely robust model in the stream environment, making a major improvement in this important problem.  Their work has been published internally at NSA.

Deines is currently a Goldwater scholar and she is also the recipient of a Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship from the Women in Engineering and Science program at Kansas State. She has excelled in a rigorous program of both undergraduate and graduate level courses. She is the president of the Kansas State Math Club and has demonstrated great enthusiasm and energy for mathematics as well as focus and drive. In the words of one recommender, she is “well started on a promising mathematics career.” 

Response from Alyson Deines

I am thrilled to be recognized as honorable mention for this year’s Alice T. Schafer prize. I would like to thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for all the encouragement they give females in mathematics. The encouragement and advice of female mathematicians has been crucial to discovering my passion for mathematics. I am grateful that this association provides such strong support and creates positive experiences for other women in the field. Specifically, I would like to thank my advisor, Marianne Korten, of Kansas State University. She gives solid advice and encouragement to me and other females in the Kansas State University Math Department. I would also like to thank Richard Rebarber, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Joe McCloskey, who have enthusiastically guided me through my summer research projects. Furthermore, I would like to thank Todd Cochrane, of Kansas State University, my current research advisor, for introducing me to number theory and guiding me through research in this area. Many other professors at Kansas State University have also given me invaluable support. Finally, I must thank my parents for the encouragement they have and will always give me to pursue my interests.

Sixteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize

posted Jul 9, 2010, 6:24 PM by Glenna Buford

January 2006, San Antonio, TA

In 1990, the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) established the annual Alice T. Schafer Prize for excellence in mathematics by an undergraduate woman. The prize is named for former AWM president and one of its founding members, Alice T. Schafer (Professor Emerita from Wellesley College), who has contributed a great deal to women in mathematics throughout her career. The criteria for selection includes, but is not limited to, the quality of the nominees' performance in mathematics courses and special programs, an exhibition of real interest in mathematics, the ability to do independent work, and if applicable, performance in mathematical competitions.

AWM is pleased to present the Sixteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize to Alexandra Ovetsky, Princeton University.

Additionally, AWM was pleased to recognize Allison Bishop, Princeton University, who was selected as runner-up in the Schafer Prize competition. AWM was further pleased to recognize Ellen Gasparovic, College of the Holy Cross, as an honorable mention recipient in the Schafer Prize competition.



Schafer Prize Winner: Alexandra Ovetsky

Alexandra Ovetsky is a senior at Princeton University. A Goldwater scholar, Ovetsky is also the recipient of the Princeton math department’s Andrew H. Brown prize for outstanding research in mathematics as a junior. Her coauthored paper "Surreal Dimensions" has been published in Advances in Applied Mathematics.

In the summer of 2004, Ovetsky participated in the REU program at the University of Minnesota at Duluth. There she wrote a professional-level paper about well-covered graphs, turning the idea around and showing that the property of being not well-covered behaves well under Cartesian products. In the summer of 2005, Ovetsky participated in the Director's Summer Program at the National Security Agency. There she tackled three problems and made significant progress on all three. This work is being published internally at NSA.

For her junior paper at Princeton, Ovetsky proved a result in graph theory, generalizing a famous theorem of Claude Shannon from 1948. Ovetsky's theorem relates the chromatic number to the clique number for quasi-line graphs. One recommender reports, "She already has the research capabilities of an advanced graduate student or junior faculty member."

Response from Alexandra Ovetsky

I am greatly honored to be this year’s recipient of the Alice T. Schafer prize. I would like to thank the AWM for being such an encouragement to women in mathematics, in particular those at early stages of their careers.

I became passionate about mathematics at a very early age; however I only discovered the true beauty of this subject when I was introduced to mathematical research by Dr. Ted Chinburg of the University of Pennsylvania. I would like to thank him for his inspiration and patience in working with an enthusiastic but inexperienced high school student. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Joe Gallian for giving me the opportunity to interact with a group of the nation’s top young mathematicians that he gathers at his REU at Duluth, Minnesota. Finally, I would like to thank Maria Chudnovsky, my thesis and junior independent work advisor at Princeton University, for encouraging me to continue working in the field of graph theory and for her excellent guidance of my research endeavors with her. The support of many other faculty members of the Princeton math department has also been invaluable.


Schafer Prize Runner-Up: Allison Bishop

Allison Bishop is a senior at Princeton University. She is a Goldwater scholar and in 2003 she was the recipient of Princeton’s Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence. Bishop’s strengths in---and passion for---mathematics are evident in a wide variety of fields, including game theory, classical analysis, number theory, and algebraic geometry. In her coursework and her research endeavors, Bishop’s versatility, creativity and tenacity earn high praise. She is described as a natural leader and also a team player.

In Summer 2004, Bishop participated in the REU program at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Her project mentor writes of Bishop’s ingenuity as well as her remarkable mathematical sophistication. Allison Bishop’s research project used game theory to study the evolution of cooperation; that is, the probability of a single cooperator taking over in a non-cooperating population. This work generalizes previous studies, modifying a fixed population to a growing one. At the NSA’s Director’s Summer Program in Summer 2005, Bishop’s performance was again exceptional. Of her project, one advisor writes, "By the midpoint of the summer program, Ms. Bishop had demonstrated a solution far better than the project mentor had anticipated."

Bishop’s senior thesis at Princeton is an undergraduate mathematics textbook, which aims to introduce readers to the fundamental concept of mathematical proof, while demonstrating the wide variety of mathematical fields, the connections between them, and their applications.

Response from Allison Bishop

I am very honored to be recognized by the Association for Women in Mathematics. The support and encouragement of female mathematicians has been a crucial element of my positive experiences in mathematics and I am glad that the Association provides such support for other women in the field. In particular, I am greatly indebted to Wendy Hines at the University of Nebraska, as well as Alice Chang, Ingrid Daubechies, and Alina Cojocaru at Princeton University, all of whom have guided me through my mathematical studies and research. I would also like to thank Jamie Radcliffe at the University of Nebraska and Jordon Ellenberg for his wonderful teaching and encouragement in my first semester at Princeton. Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank my high school calculus teacher, John Kotmel, who first taught me that mathematics could be creative to a degree far beyond my expectations. My mathematical interests came a bit late and unexpectedly in my academic life, but I have been very lucky in having great advisors and fellow students to help me learn and discover mathematics. I am very excited about continuing my studies and pursuing a mathematical career.


Honorable Mention: Ellen Gasparovic

Ellen Gasparovic is a senior mathematics major in the College Honors Program at the College of the Holy Cross, where she has been a Dana Scholar for three years and a recipient of the "Rising Star" Award. During her junior year, Gasparovic undertook research with professor Sharon Frechette related to the theory of partitions and presented her results at the Seventh Annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics. She has been named one of only three Fenwick scholars in the class of 2006 at Holy Cross. This special status affords her the opportunity to spend her spring semester studying the group of Lie sphere transformations, imported subgroups, and their recent applications under the tutelage of Professor Thomas Cecil.

In addition to Gasparovic’s mathematical rhymes, her letter writers comment on her enthusiasm and love for the subject. Her willingness to share mathematics with others through wonderful talks is valued by her colleagues and teachers.

Response from Ellen Gasparovic

I am thrilled to be selected as the honorable mention recipient for the Alice T. Schafer Prize. I thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for this tremendous honor and for the outstanding opportunities the organization provides for women in mathematics. Through this award, the AWM demonstrates its commitment to recognize and support young women with a passion for mathematics, and I am excited to be a part of this wonderful endeavor. Thank you to the entire College of the Holy Cross community for the excellent education I have received. In particular, I am grateful for the unique opportunity I have had this year to design a year of independent study, providing me with a strong foundation for a career in mathematical research and education. Deepest thanks go to professor Thomas Cecil, my research advisor, mentor, and nominator. He is an incredible source of inspiration and encouragement for me, and I am so grateful to work with such a remarkable professor. Furthermore, I appreciate very much the great wisdom and support of professors Sharon Frechette, Cristina Ballantine, and Steven Levandosky of the Holy Cross mathematics department. Finally, I thank my parents for introducing me to a love of learning and for never ceasing to remind me of my potential as a woman in mathematics.

Fifteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize

posted Jul 9, 2010, 6:22 PM by Glenna Buford

January 2005, Atlanta, GA

In 1990, the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) established the annual Alice T. Schafer Prize for excellence in mathematics by an undergraduate woman. The prize is named for former AWM president and one of its founding members, Alice T. Schafer (Professor Emerita from Wellesley College), who has contributed a great deal to women in mathematics throughout her career. The criteria for selection includes, but is not limited to, the quality of the nominees' performance in mathematics courses and special programs, an exhibition of real interest in mathematics, the ability to do independent work, and if applicable, performance in mathematical competitions.

AWM is pleased to present the Fifteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize to Melody Chan, Yale University.

Additionally, AWM was pleased to recognize Margaret I. Doig, a senior major at University of Notre Dame, and Elena Fuchs, a senior mathematics major at University of California, Berkeley who were selected as runners-up in the Schafer Prize competition. AWM was further pleased to recognize Annalies Vuong, University of California, Santa Barbara as an honorable mention recipient in the Schafer Prize competition.



Schafer Prize Winner: Melody Chan

Melody Chan is a senior at Yale University where she excelled in a wide variety of mathematics courses and was awarded the prestigious Hart Lyman Prize. She has made presentations at the Yale Math Club, earned an honorable mention on the Putnam Competition and is Vice President of the Yale chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Melody also did outstanding work in advanced courses at the Budapest Semester in Mathematics in Hungary.

Melody participated in an REU at East Tennessee State University where she investigated the pebbling number problem. Her approach to the problem was described as “ingenious,” and she able to significantly improve on the bounds for the pebbling number of a graph with n vertices. She gave a well-received talk on this work at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in 2003, and her results have been submitted for publication.

In the summer of 2004, Melody participated in an REU at the University of Minnesota at Duluth during which she wrote three professional level papers on the concept of the distinguishing number. In the first paper, she was able to answer a long-standing open question, dating from the paper in which the distinguishing number was introduced. In her subsequent papers, she took a group-theoretic approach to the distinguishing number problem. This work exhibited a mastery of groups acting on sets. Various experts in the field described her papers as “remarkable” and “beautiful work” and a “foundational contribution” to the field that will likely be frequently cited.

Response from Melody Chan

I am truly happy to be able to accept the 2005 Alice T. Schafer Prize from the Association for Women in Mathematics. I view this prize as both an honor and a responsibility. The AWM fills an invaluable role in encouraging women to pursue mathematical careers, and I can only hope to contribute to the pursuit of its commendable goals.

So many people deserve my most profound thanks for their support. In particular, I would like to thank Richard Beals and Dana Angluin, two of my professors at Yale without whose guidance and excellent teaching I would be a very different person and mathematician. I would also like to thank Anant Godbole and Joseph Gallian for their wonderful REU programs at East Tennessee State University and at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Finally, I would like to thank my research advisors at Duluth, Melanie Wood and Philip Matchett, who have helped me so much at every stage of the mathematical research process.


Schafer Prize Runner-Up: Margaret 1. Doig

Margaret 1. Doig is a senior honors mathematics major at the University of Notre Dame. Her impressive credentials include being the 2001 Notre Dame high scorer on the Putnam, a year spent at Oxford University being tutored by, among others, number theorist Susan Howson and topologist Wilson Sutherland, and receiving the Goldwater Scholarship.

Margaret’s research at the University of Minnesota at Duluth REU during the summer of 2003 resulted in the paper “Maximum Run Length in a Toriodal Grid Graph”. She presented this work at the 2004 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Arizona. Next, she spent the summer of 2004 doing research on braid groups with Frank Connolly. Specifically, they worked on the Right Angled Artin Conjecture of Abrams and Ghrist, which they believe they have solved. Margaret made a particularly substantial contribution by developing a crucial technique. This work will result in two papers, one by her alone that will detail the technique, and one coauthored with Connolly. For her senior thesis, supervised by Claudia Polini, Margaret further extends her areas of mathematical expertise to include commutative algebra and algebraic geometry.

Response from Margaret 1. Doig

I am very grateful to the Association for Women in Mathematics for this honor. The encouragement and care of the organization are tremendously important, and I hope to be able to make an equivalent return someday. I am thankful to Joe Gallian and the rest of the Duluth REU for teaching me what it means to do math, and I greatly appreciate the excellent education I have received from the Notre Dame community, especially from Frank Connolly. Not to be overlooked is the contribution of my high school mentors Wright Vermilya and Tom Brieske.


Schafer Prize Runner-Up: Elena Fuchs

Elena Fuchs is a senior at the University of California at Berkeley. Her coursework, which includes a number of graduate courses, has been called “especially incisive” and “quite clever”. Her instructors comment on her advanced mathematical maturity.

During the summer of 2003 Elena attended the Penn State University MASS program. One outcome of her work was a paper coauthored with Paul Baginski on modular invariants of elliptic curves. Her work at the University of Minnesota at Duluth REU during the summer of 2004 resulted in a paper entitled “Longest Induced Cycles in Cayley Graphs,” which has been submitted for publication. For her senior thesis, she returns to the impressively complicated topic of elliptic curves. Under the direction of Ken Ribet, she will study endomorphisms of the Jacobian of hyperelliptic curves.

Response from Elena Fuchs

It is a great honor to be selected as runner-up to the Alice Schafer Prize. I would like to thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for the encouragement and recognition they offer young women pursuing math--this award is only one of the many ways in which it promotes emerging female mathematicians. I am also deeply grateful to Professor Ken Ribet, who has truly inspired me in my research and studies, for his invaluable teaching, as well as his patience and guidance. Thank you to Professor Gallian and everyone at his wonderful Duluth REU, which has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my mathematical career thus far. As always, I want to thank my family and friends for supporting me in all of my endeavors. A special thanks to my father, who has been more than just a mathematical role model to me for many years.


Honorable Mention: Annalies Vuong

Annalies Vuong is a senior at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is the founding president of the UCSB Mathematics Students’ Association and already a regular attendee of the graduate students seminars in topology and differential geometry. Annalies is proving to be a rising star, excelling in coursework and in the research setting.

In the Summer 2003 Annalies Vuong participated in the Carleton/St. Olaf College Program for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics. During the Summer 2004 at the East Tennessee State University REU program, Annalies came into her own. She worked on four different problems in combinatorics and graph theory, which led to three (perhaps four) papers submitted for publication. One recommender described her as fearless, focused, and unrelenting and furthermore knowing exactly when to stop a particular line of investigation and investigate other avenues. Annalies Vuong combines talent, energy, determination and a passion for mathematics.

Response from Annalies Vuong

I would like to thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for this honor. I am tremedously grateful for their support, as well as for the support of the mathematics department at UCSB and the College of Creative Studies. rye been very lucky to have so many people encourage my love of math and help me to succeed in mathematics; in particular, I’d like to thank Anant Godbole for his East Tennesee State University REU. I had an amazing experience doing math there, thanks to his boundless enthusiasm and belief in his students. I’m also endebted to Kasra Rafi, John Ennis, and Jeffrey Stopple for their encouragement and to everyone involved with the Carleton Summer Math Program for Women.

Fourteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize

posted Jul 9, 2010, 6:19 PM by Glenna Buford

January 2004, Phoenix AZ

In 1990, the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) established the annual Alice T. Schafer Prize for excellence in mathematics by an undergraduate woman. The prize is named for former AWM president and one of its founding members, Alice T. Schafer (Professor Emerita from Wellesley College), who has contributed a great deal to women in mathematics throughout her career. The criteria for selection includes, but is not limited to, the quality of the nominees' performance in mathematics courses and special programs, an exhibition of real interest in mathematics, the ability to do independent work, and if applicable, performance in mathematical competitions.

AWM is pleased to present the Fourteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize to Kimberly Spears, University of California, Santa Barbara..

Additionally, AWM was pleased to recognize Karola Meszaros, a junior mathematics major at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Jennifer Novak, a senior mathematics major at Texas A&M University as Runners-Up in the Schafer Prize competition as well as Elena Grigorescu, a senior at Bard College with a double major in mathematics and computer science, and Ariel E. Barton, a senior mathematics major at Harvey Mudd College, who received Honorable Mentions.



Schafer Prize Winner: Kimberly Spears

Kimberly Spears is a senior at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a junior, her "dedication and passion" led her to excel in advanced sequences in abstract algebra and real analysis, courses populated mostly by incoming graduate students. During the following summer she did research with Jeffrey Stopple at UCLA as a participant in the UCLEADS program (Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees). Her project resulted in a generalization of Gauss's Law of Quadratic Reciprocity to general (nonabelian) groups. Kimberly was "highly motivated and enthusiastic about learning" and "had to master a lot of new material on group representation theory to even understand the question." Kimberly's senior thesis addresses the question of classifying discriminants d with one class per genus. Her proof that assuming a conjecture about the Grand Unitary Ensemble (GUE), no discriminant greater than d66 (the smallest with 66 prime factors) has one class per genus "would satisfy the minimum required for a Ph.D. thesis" at USCB. Kimberly's subsequent presentation in the UCSB Arithmetic and Geometry Seminar left the faculty audience "flabbergasted." "No undergrad had ever given a talk before, much less on original research," and "the breadth of material she has mastered astonished them." Papers on both of Kimberly's research projects will be submitted to journals this fall. Her recommenders also praise Kimberly's "remarkable ability to absorb the highlights and essential concepts of broad areas of mathematics quickly" and write that "Kimberly is without any doubt the best student I have ever seen in my 16-year career."

Response from Kimberly Spears

I am pleased to receive the 2004 Alice T. Schafer Prize. I would like to thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for encouraging me to continue doing what I love. Every day I have had to do research and learn more math is one that I have enjoyed.

I would like to thank my mentor Jeffrey Stopple who has been crucial to my development into a young mathematician. His dedication and support are indescribable. I would also like to thank William Duke for his mentoring and James McKernan. I would like to thank Sarah Dillingham and the UCLEADS program. Thank you to the mathematics department at UCSB for all their congratulations and support.


Schafer Prize Runner-Up: Karola Meszaros

Karola Meszaros is a junior mathematics major at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After her first semester of her freshman year at MIT, she embarked on a research project in combinatorics. "In a remarkable tour de force of intricate reasoning," Karola successfully disproved a conjecture, found the correct formulation, and solved the given problem. The result was described as "a worthy Ph.D. thesis." Karola has another paper ready for publication, on Latin squares and a conjecture of Mahdian and Mahmoodian. While writing two papers in her first two years at MIT, Karola Meszaros has also been putting in outstanding performances in several difficult mathematics courses.

Response from Karola Meszaros

I am honored to be recognized by the AWM as a runner-up for the Alice T. Schafer Prize. I am extremely grateful for all the encouragement I have received in exploring the beauties of mathematics. I would like to express my deepest thanks to Professor Richard P. Stanley for his support and guidance since my first year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The opportunity of doing mathematical research in the vivacious atmosphere of MIT is of great importance to me, since for me, research represents the most refined charm of mathematics and science in general.


Schafer Prize Runner-Up: Jennifer Novak

Jennifer Novak is a senior mathematics major at Texas A&M University. Jennifer is the current President of the TAMU Math Club, garnering praise from TAMU professors for her outstanding work in undergraduate as well as graduate math courses. She spent the summer of 2003 in an NSF-sponsored REU on Knot Theory at Williams College. The students' research project was successful, producing a paper predicted to "be of great interest to knot theorists, geometers and topologists." Jennifer was "critical to the success of the paper." Jennifer also won one of the top two awards for her talk on this research at the 2003 Mathfest in Boulder. In the summer of 2002 Jennifer Novak participated in an REU/VIGRE program at Texas A&M on mathematical modeling in ecology. Her mentor there remarked that Jennifer rapidly "grasped the heart of the problems." Her nominators describe Jennifer Novak as creative, independent, enthusiastic, and tenacious.

Response from Jennifer Novak

I am pleased and excited to receive the exceptional honor of being named a runner-up for the Alice T. Schafer Prize. The Associate for Women in Mathematics has made phenomenal progress for women in math by supporting programs throughout their careers, in the work place and in their personal lives. I am especially grateful for AWM's constant efforts to encourage young female mathematicians by providing them opportunities and recognizing their achievements. I would like to give special thanks to Dr. Susan Geller for her overabundance of support, encouragement, and guidance throughout college; Dr. Colin Adams for showing me the beauty of mathematical research and the possibilities afforded by determination; and Dr. Keri Kornelson for going out of her way to help women succeed in mathematics. I would like to thank the entire faculty in the Texas A&M math department for their continuous support and encouragement of undergraduates determined to become mathematicians. Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends for their constant encouragement and assistance in my life.


Honorable Mention: Elena Grigorescu

Elena Grigorescu is a senior at Bard College with a double major in mathematics and computer science. She has twice participated in the REU program in Duluth, Minnesota and subsequently had two articles on graph theory accepted for publication. Of this work, it has been predicted, "these results will be often cited." Elena has also completed a senior thesis on Hilbert series of monomial ideals in several variables. In addition, she participated in an internship with IBM and was the recipient of the IBM/APS Research Internship Award.

Response from Elena Grigorescu

This award represents a real encouragement for me towards a career in mathematics-related research. I thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for rewarding me, and I hope I will prove myself worthy of such an honor. I would very much like to thank Professor Joseph Gallian for his wonderful Duluth REU and for his assistance given to undergraduate students. Also, I am grateful to the faculty in the Mathematics and Computer Science Departments at Bard College for making my undergraduate years an exciting experience. In particular, I thank Professor Lauren Rose for her nomination.


Honorable Mention: Ariel E. Barton

Ariel E. Barton is a senior mathematics major at Harvey Mudd College. Her senior thesis is entitled "Convergence of Domains and Harmonic Measure Distribution." She is described as having "an excellent grasp of the overall structure of the problem" but is also adept at proving the "gritty technical results." She has also completed a summer research project that involved applying Hestenes' classic treatment of Bolza's control problem. Ariel has excelled in numerous upper division mathematics courses and had an outstanding perform ance on the Putnam Exam.

Response from Ariel E. Barton

I am honored that the Association for Women in Mathematics has chosen me to receive an honorable mention for the Alice T. Schafer Prize Competition. I would like to thank the mathematics department at Harvey Mudd College for their support over the past three years, in particular Lesley Ward, my research advisor, and Michael Moody and Arthur Benjamin, who have advised me so many times.

Thirteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize

posted Jul 9, 2010, 6:16 PM by Glenna Buford

January 2003, Baltimore MD

In 1990, the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) established the annual Alice T. Schafer Prize for excellence in mathematics by an undergraduate woman. The prize is named for former AWM president and one of its founding members, Alice T. Schafer (Professor Emerita from Wellesley College), who has contributed a great deal to women in mathematics throughout her career. The criteria for selection includes, but is not limited to, the quality of the nominees' performance in mathematics courses and special programs, an exhibition of real interest in mathematics, the ability to do independent work, and if applicable, performance in mathematical competitions.

AWM is pleased to present the Thirteenth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize to Kate Gruher, a senior at University of Chicago.

Additionally, AWM was pleased to recognize two Runners up: Wei Ho, a senior at Harvard University, and Josephine T. Yu, a senior at the University of California, Davis. Three more students were given Honorable mention: Elizabeth F. Thoren, a senor at University of Alabama, Huntsville, Annalee H. Wiswell, a senior at Scripps College, and Kathryn M. Zuhr, a senior at Mount Holyoke College.



Schafer Prize Winner: Kate Gruher

Kate Gruher is a senior at the University of Chicago. She excelled in the Honors Calculus, Honors Algebra, and Honors Analysis sequences. During the summer after her sophomore year, she participated in the ergodic theory group of the SMALL REU at Williams College.

A paper she co-authored on power weak mixing will appear in the New York Journal of Mathematics for which her "work was crucial" and for which she "provided many of the new ideas." In the summer of 2002, she participated in the highly exclusive Director's Summer Program at the National Security Agency (NSA), at which she contributed "the constructions of families of new examples" which "may improve the efficiency of an algorithm important to NSA." In addition to her classes and research, Kate has graded and run problem sessions for calculus, assisted with New Student Orientation, and worked as a counselor with the University of Chicago's middle school Young Scholars Program.

Her recommenders say that "Kate has a very special talent for mathematical research and for explaining mathematics to others," and that "she is a true scholar ... she ... has the right aptitude to make a serious long-term contribution to mathematics."

Response from Kate Gruher

I feel greatly honored to receive the AWM's Alice T. Schafer Prize. The AWM provides incredibly important support to women in early stages of their careers as mathematicians and I believe that their vision will help many young women achieve their goals. I feel greatly encouraged in my ambitions by the AWM's support and belief in my abilities. I would like to thank the mathematics department at the University of Chicago for nurturing my love of math, and my classmates and co-researchers for showing me beauty in our work. I would especially like to thank Professor Peter May for nominating me and advising me in many decisions; Professor Paul Sally for his advice and wonderful teaching; and Professor Kevin Corlette for encouraging me to continue studying math at the beginning of my undergraduate career. I would also like to thank Professor Cesar Silva and Dr. Elisabeth Pyle for making my summer research projects interesting and successful. Your support and teachings have helped me realize just how exhilarating math can be.


Schafer Prize Runner-Up: Wei Ho

Wei Ho is a senior at Harvard University. She has taken or is taking graduate algebra, analysis, algebraic topology, and algebraic geometry and "worked on problems in graph theory and combinatorial geometry." She participated in the NSF-sponsored REU at University of Minnesota, Duluth, at which she produced original results in m-step competition numbers of paths and cycles. Her advisor is "confident that her paper will be accepted for publication" in a prestigious journal. She "has already developed... an admirable commitment to mathematical service" which is shown in her assistance with the Harvard/MIT high-school math tournament and Mandelbrot competition, involvement in peer tutoring, and organizing women's activities in the Math Club. Her recommenders say that she "has exceptional mathematical talent" and "will likely develop into an excellent research mathematician."

Response from Wei Ho

I am most grateful to the Association for Women in Mathematics for this extraordinary honor and for its role in supporting female mathematicians throughout their careers. Although I am indebted to many people for their encouragement and mathematical inspiration, I would especially like to thank Professor Noam Elkies for his nomination as well as Professor Joseph Gallian for all of his guidance at the Duluth REU. As always, I am grateful to my family and friends for their continual encouragement in mathematics and in life.


Schafer Prize Runner-Up: Josephine T. Yu

Josephine T. Yu is a senior at University of California, Davis, She has been working with her VIGRE research advisor since the end of her freshman year and recently coauthored a paper in quantum algebra which is available on the arXiv. Josephine won the UC Davis Spring Mathematics Contest but "never received any training for problem solving skills aimed at winning a contest" and has completed a graduate combinatorics course in which she successfully "competed with some of the smartest graduate students." In addition, Josephine has been President of both the UC Davis Math Club and the local Pi Mu Epsilon chapter, assisted in a third-term Calculus course, and tutored for two years. Her recommenders say that she "is a talented student of mathematics who consistently seeks to dig deeper and reach higher" and "is THE top undergraduate student of her generation here at UC Davis."

Response from Josephine T. Yu

I am tremendously honored to be a runner-up for the Alice T. Schafer Prize. I appreciate AWM for giving the woman mathematicians the much needed encouragement at the beginning of our careers. Knowing that my efforts are recognized, I will strive to achieve further and to contribute something back to the mathematical community. I thank the faculty, staff, and graduate students at the UC Davis math department for giving undergraduate students wonderful education and warm support. I am especially indebted to Professor Motohico Mulase for his guidance and for being the best research mentor. I also thank Professors Abigail Thompson and Evelyn Sitvia for inspiring me to be a math major, Professor Jesus De Loera and all my teachers for the invaluable education. Their confidence in me is always a motivation. I am also grateful to Nancy Davis and Rick West for their support and my friends and family for believing in me.


Honorable Mention: Elizabeth F. Thoren

Elizabeth F. Thoren is a senior at University of Alabama, Huntsville. She has taken graduate-level courses in topology, analysis, and probability. Elizabeth participated in the NSF-REU at Indiana University and in the MASS Program at Penn State, where she was recognized "for outstanding performance in Fluid Dynamics Class," "clearly demonstrated deep interest in learning new mathematics going well beyond the usual curriculum," and ''proved her ability for independent research work."

Response from Elizabeth F. Thoren

Response from Elizabeth F. Thoren: This recognition is a tremendous honor for me. I am indebted to the excellent professors and students involved in Indiana University's REU and the MASS Program at Penn State I am also grateful for all the support UAH's math department has given me. And I would especially like to thank Boris Kunin or being the best mentor ever.


Honorable Mention: Annalee H. Wiswell

Annalee H. Wiswell is a senior at Scripps College She attended the Carleton Summer Math Program for Women and then the NSF-REU at Mount Holyoke College, where she obtained results in algebraic number theory on which she is continuing work in her senior honors project. Faculty from other of the Claremont Colleges have "recognized her as one of the top students in every one of her classes." Her advisor says that "the more she learns the more limitless her interest in math seems to become."

Response from Annalee H. Wiswell

Response from Annalee H. Wiswell: I am delighted to have been awarded Honorable Mention for the Alice T. Schafer Prize. I would like to thank the mathematics departments at Scripps College, Harvey Mudd College and Pomona College for their support and encouragement. I am especially grateful to my advisor and mentor Christopher Towse (Scripps) and to Margaret Robinson (Mt. Holyoke) for her confidence in me. I am gladdened at the existence of the AWM and the support that they give to female mathematicians.


Honorable Mention: Kathryn M. Zuhr

Kathryn M. Zuhr is a senior at Mount Holyoke College She attended the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics and also the NSF-REU at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where she obtained results on the moduli space of certain tilings on Riemann surfaces, on which she is continuing work in her honors thesis. Additionally, Kathryn has "helped to head up and organize the mathematics club." Her recommenders say she has "an extremely strong background in mathematics and excellent intuition."

Response from Kathryn M. Zuhr

Response from Kathryn M. Zuhr: I am honored that the Association for Women in Mathematics recognized me with an honorable mention for the Alice T. Schafer Prize Competition. I would like to thank the Mount Holyoke College Mathematics department for cultivating my interest in mathematics. Specific thanks go to Harriet Pollatsek and Margaret Robinson for advising me, and Alan Durfee and Donald O'Shea for overseeing my research. Finally, I am grateful to Allen Broughton at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for starting me on my research and continuing to support my endeavors.

Twelfth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize

posted Jul 9, 2010, 6:14 PM by Glenna Buford

January 2002, San Diego CA

In 1990, the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) established the annual Alice T. Schafer Prize for excellence in mathematics by an undergraduate woman. The prize is named for former AWM president and one of its founding members, Alice T. Schafer (Professor Emerita from Wellesley College), who has contributed a great deal to women in mathematics throughout her career. The criteria for selection includes, but is not limited to, the quality of the nominees' performance in mathematics courses and special programs, an exhibition of real interest in mathematics, the ability to do independent work, and if applicable, performance in mathematical competitions.

AWM is pleased to present the Twelfth Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize to two outstanding young woman mathematicians: Kay Kirkpatrick from Montana State University and Melanie Wood, from Duke University.

Additionally, five outstanding young women were recognized at the conclusion of the AWM Panel on Sunday, January 6, 2002. AWM was pleased to recognize five outstanding women who were nominated and given an honorable mention in the Schafer Prize competition: Karen M. Lange, a senior who is a double major in mathematics and computer science at Swarthmore College; Sonja Mapes, a senior mathematics major at the University of Notre Dame;Amy E. Marinello a senior mathematics major at Swarthmore College; Kathleen A. Ponto, a senior mathematics major at the University of Notre Dame; and Grace C. Wang, a senior mathematics major at the University of California at Berkeley. Citations on the Honorable Mention recipients are available from the AWM.



Schafer Prize Co-Winner: Kay Kirkpatrick

Kay Kirkpatrick is a senior at Montana State University. She has taken many graduate courses; her professors say that she "routinely takes 20-22 credits per term, earning A's in them all." In summer 2000, she participated in the Industrial Mathematics Workshop for Graduate Students at the Center for Research in Scientific Computation at North Carolina State University. Her mentor there says that Kay "was extremely insightful, very creative in her thinking, and was the intellectual peer of the best graduate students in the program. She is one of the brightest undergraduates I have encountered in more than 30 years in academia." He says that her team's work is "destined for publication." Kay also participated in an REU in summer 2001, resulting in a paper being published. Her mentor in this program says that Kay "was just a delight to work with, and to talk to. If I had made a wish-list for the perfect candidate for my summer REU program, Kay would have exceeded that beyond all expectations." In addition, Kay was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 2001. One of her professors says that Kay is "an extremely warm, respectable, enthusiastic and hard working person. Her brilliance and dedication renew my inspiration as a professor."

Response from Kay Kirkpatrick

I feel extremely honored to be numbered among today's rising women in math. The Association for Women in Mathematics is doing a wonderful thing to encourage and support aspiring mathematicians. I'll spend the rest of my life repaying this debt to AWM and to all of my professors and mentors. You all have not only supported me, but also have been true inspirations. I'd like to thank the Honors Program and Music Department at MSU for bringing me to Montana State University - Bozeman in the first place. I feel indebted to the math professors who noticed my ability while I was still a psychology major, and those who continued to nurture me when I switched to math. Kudos to the scientists and mathematicians at the Center for Computational Biology at MSU, the Modeling Workshop at North Carolina State, and the University of Houston, who all helped me discover the exhilaration of being on the cutting edge of research. Because of each one of you, the quality of my undergraduate education has exceeded even my own high expectations. Special thanks to my family, who always told me that I could do whatever I wanted, even before I figured out what "whatever" was. And to my sister Bonnie, who is also my roommate, best friend and biggest fan: you know you're a mathematician at heart.


Schafer Prize Co-Winner: Melanie Wood

Melanie Wood is a junior at Duke University. In 1999, she was a member of Duke's 3rd-place Putnam team and received an Honorable Mention for her individual Putnam performance. She has excelled in many graduate courses, beginning in the fall of her freshman year and continuing to the present. Her professors say that Melanie is "a truly remarkable student, one of the best I have ever encountered in my 21 years of teaching" and that "I know that she will become a top-flight mathematician." In summer 2000, she participated in an REU which resulted in a paper that has been submitted to a well-respected journal. Her mentor from this program expects that the paper will be accepted and writes that "in this elite group (of REU participants) Melanie ranks with the best." She has recently begun independent research on another topic and "has already made original and non-trivial progress." In addition, Melanie was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 2001. Her professors agree that Melanie "has a passion for mathematics" and "will become a wonderful role model for others."

Response from Melanie Wood

It is a wonderful honor to be awarded the Alice T. Schafer Prize from the Association for Women in Mathematics. I would like to thank those who established the award for their vision to recognize and encourage young women mathematicians. Mathematics, though extremely rewarding, is a difficult career to pursue, and thus it is so important for young mathematicians to feel support from the community as they pursue their careers. I want to thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for showing me such support and recognizing me among such outstanding young women mathematicians. Also, I would like to thank the Duke Math Department for providing an encouraging, supportive, challenging, and exciting environment in which to do mathematics. My wonderful experience in the department has really solidified my decision to go to math graduate school and pursue math research as a career. In particular, I would like to thank David Kraines for his help in practically every aspect of my mathematical activities, Richard Hain for being a great research mentor, Robert Bryant for leading me through exciting independent work, and Paul Aspinwall for challenging and inspiring classes. The Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of Minnesota-Duluth has also been an invaluable part of my undergraduate mathematical career. I would like to thank everyone there who helped me with my research, especially Manjul Bhargava for everything from inspiration to detailed comments on my paper. Finally, I would like to thank Joe Gallian for creating such a top-notch program, inviting me to attend, and supporting all of my mathematical endeavors.

AWM is further pleased to recognize five outstanding women who were nominated and given an honorable mention in the Schafer Prize competition: Karen M. Lange, a senior who is a double major in mathematics and computer science at Swarthmore College; Sonja Mapes, a senior mathematics major at the University of Notre Dame; Amy E. Marinello a senior mathematics major at Swarthmore College; Kathleen A. Ponto, a senior mathematics major at the University of Notre Dame; and Grace Wang, a senior mathematics major at the University of California at Berkeley.


Honorable Mention: Karen M. Lange

Karen M. Lange is currently a senior at Swarthmore College and will graduate with an Honors Major in mathematics as well as an Honors Minor in computer science. Ms. Lange has participated in three summer programs (Carleton/St. Olaf, an REU at William and Mary, and an REU at DIMACS), and spent her fall doing the Budapest Semester in Mathematics. She was described as "at the 'top of the bunch' from an extremely bright and gifted bunch" in the Carleton Summer Math Program in 1999. Her work at the William and Mary REU produced a paper in matrix theory submitted to a professional mathematics journal, and she has co-produced a mathematical website (which reads much like a paper) on her DIMACS results. Additionally, she is a Goldwater scholar.

Response from Karen M. Lange

I am greatly honored to be named an honorable mention for the Alice T. Schafer Prize by the Association for Women in Mathematics. I would first like to thank the entire Swarthmore mathematics department for their incredible support and encouragement. In particular, I would like to thank Professors Helene Shapiro, Cheryl Grood, Janet Talvacchia, and Aimee Johnson. I would also like to thank all those who provided me with such wonderful summer experiences at Carleton College, the College of William and Mary, and DIMACS, especially Professors David Stanford, Mel Janowitz, and Karen Brucks.


Honorable Mention: Sonja Mapes

Sonja Mapes is currently a senior at Notre Dame. In addition to a statistics internship in Washington completed after her second year of college, she participated in the Williams College SMALL REU on Commutative Algebra in 2001. The paper produced by her research group (which included another Schafer Honorable Mention, Grace Wang) is impressive in its depth, particularly given the amount of background the authors needed to absorb in order to approach the problem. Sonja's research mentor cited her as having "contributed greatly to both the mathematical work and the morale of the group." She was invited as a junior into the Notre Dame Seminar in Undergraduate Mathematics, which investigates advanced mathematical topics in preparation for graduate school work.

Response from Sonja Mapes

I want to thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for this honor. I would also like to thank the mathematics department at the University of Notre Dame, especially Professor Frank Connolly and Professor Dennis Snow for all of their support and advice. Finally, I would also like to thank all of those involved with the Williams College REU program, especially my advisor Professor Susan Loepp.


Honorable Mention: Amy E. Marinello

Amy E. Marinello is a senior at Swarthmore College. In summer 2000, she participated in the SMALL REU at Williams College. Her research there resulted in a co-authored paper on double ergodicity which has been accepted for publication in the Illinois Journal of Mathematics. Her REU mentor writes that Amy "has a very strong natural talent for mathematical research" and that "her work was crucial in many of the breakthroughs." In summer 2001, Amy also participated in the Director's Summer Program at the National Security Agency. Her professors agree that she is "strikingly gifted" and that "her work is characterized by true creativity."

Response from Amy E. Marinello

I would like to thank the Association for Women in Mathematics for this honor. I want to express my gratitude towards all the teachers, professors, and mathematicians who have provided me with inspiration and encouragement, particularly the faculty of Swarthmore College's mathematics department. I extend special thanks to Professors Janet Talvacchia and Thomas Hunter.


Honorable Mention: Kathleen A. Ponto

Kathleen A. Pontois a senior at the University of Notre Dame. She is in the University Honors Program and will also graduate with honors in mathematics. In summer 2000, she participated in three summer programs (two at Notre Dame, and an NSF sponsored REU at University of Tennessee). She then studied math during her junior year abroad at Trinity College, Dublin. In addition, she participated in an REU at University of Minnesota, Duluth in summer 2001. This work resulted in a paper in graph theory which has been submitted to well-respected journal. Her professors write that Kate "displays true brilliance," is a "creative problem solver," and that she "will have a fine research career in mathematics."

Response from Kathleen A. Ponto

I was pleased and honored to have been named honorable mention for the Alice T. Schaefer Prize by the Association of Women in Mathemetics. I want to extend my gratitude to the University of Notre Dame mathematics faculty and particularly my thesis advisor, Francis Connolly, who has been most generous with his knowledge, time, and energy. I also want to thank Joe Gallian and Gretchen Matthews for their support and encouragement.


Honorable Mention: Grace C. Wang

Grace C. Wang is currently a senior at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to attending the Budapest Semester in Mathematics, she participated in the Williams College SMALL REU on Commutative Algebra in 2001. The paper produced by her research group (which included another Schafer Honorable Mention, Sonja Mapes) is impressive in its depth, particularly given the amount of background the authors needed to absorb in order to approach the problem. Grace's research mentor cited her as having "an impressive ability to ask just the right questions." After her abstract algebra course ended, she organized an informal seminar for further study.

Response from Grace C. Wang

I would like to thank the AWM for honoring me. I would also like to thank the members of the math department at Berkeley for creating a fun and supportive environment in which to learn mathematics and Professors Serkan Hosten, Andras Kroo, Susan Loepp, Bernd Sturmfels, and especially Ken Ribet for helping and for encouraging me. I hope that someday I, too, will be able to inspire others to study mathematics.

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