First Annual Alice T. Schafer Prize

posted Jul 9, 2010, 5:36 PM by Glenna Buford

August 1990, Columbus OH

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 announce the winners of the first Alice T. Schafer Undergraduate Prize in mathematics Linda Green, a senior at the University of Chicago and Elizabeth Wilmer, a junior at Harvard University. 

AWM is also pleased to recognize 10 outstanding women who were nominated for the Schafer Prize and given honorable mention in the competition:
Jennifer Beineke (junior, Purdue University), Urmi Bhattacharya (senior, Indiana University), Hope Concannon (senior, Valparaiso University), Colleen Gallagher (junior, University of Dayton), Lela Hill (sophomore, California State University-Dominguez Hills), Judy Leavitt (University of Michigan),Jennifer McLean (senior, University of Colorado at Boulder), Jeanne Nielson (Duke University), Natalie Thurman (senior, Southwest Missouri University), and Ileana Vasu (senior, Stanford University). 

Finally, a special recognition was given to 
Julie B. Kerr, a freshman at Washington State University for her outstanding achievements in mathematics so early in her career.

Schafer Prize Co-Winner: Linda Green

Linda Green was described as one of the top undergraduates in the Mathematics Department at Chicago in the last twenty-five years. She began taking graduate courses as a sophomore and has uniformly excelled in them. She also took the Putnam exam in her sophomore year, finishing in the top 100. In the summer of 1989, she participated in an NSF sponsored Research Experience at Chicago studying harmonic analysis on local fields; her work was considered to be outstanding. Green has also, in conjunction with this NSF program, served as a counselor in the Mathematics Department's program for mathematically talented students from the Chicago Public Schools. Paul Sally, in his letter nominating her for the prize, said, "Linda Green is a truly impressive young woman who has all the talent and drive necessary to become an outstanding mathematician...".

Schafer Prize Co-Winner: Elizabeth Wilmer

Being the first to win a mathematics prize is not a new experience to Elizabeth Wilmer; she was a major force behind the Harvard undergraduate math team which won the first SIAM mathematical modeling competition last year. She already showed great promise in high school when she came in second nationally in the Westinghouse Science Competition with a graph theory project and placed seventh on the American Olympiad team. Wilmer spent Fall Semester 1989 taking courses in Budapest, where she was considered to be exceptionally talented. She also worked last summer at the NSF-REU program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and was asked to return. At Harvard, she has taken several graduate courses and has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant. "She is one of our real super-stars, who seems destined for a distinguished research career," said Benedict Gross in his nomination letter.

Honorable Mention: Jennifer Beineke

Jennifer Beineke, a junior at Purdue University, was nominated for her outstanding performance in high-level mathematics courses as well as her participation in an undergraduate research program at Memphis State University last summer.

Honorable Mention: Urmi Bhattacharya

Urmi Bhattacharya is a senior at Indiana University and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She will be receiving an honors B.A. in mathematics and a B.A. in computer science in May.

Honorable Mention: Hope Concannon

Hope Concannon, a senior mathematics major at Valparaiso University, has been a recipient of the Valparaiso University Presidential Scholarship for academics for each of her four undergraduate years.

Honorable Mention: Colleen Gallagher

Colleen Gallagher is a junior at the University of Dayton majoring in both mathematics and English. As a sophomore, Gallagher was in the top two of the nine Putnam competitors from the University of Dayton.

Honorable Mention: Lela Hill

Lela Hill is a sophomore at California State University - Dominguez Hills who was nominated for exceptional performance in mathematics courses and what the nominating faculty consider her "tremendous motivation and talent."

Honorable Mention: Judy Leavitt

Judy Leavitt is a mathematics major at the University of Michigan who has done a summer research program on group theory and hopes to publish the results.

Honorable Mention: Jennifer McLean

Jennifer McLean is a senior at the University of Colorado at Boulder with "an unmatched record among mathematics majors. She is expected to graduate first in her class in the mathematics program."

Honorable Mention: Jeanne Nielsen

Jeanne Nielsen is an outstanding mathematics major at Duke University, rated by her professors as one of the best in the department in the last twenty-five years.

Honorable Mention: Natalie Thurman

Natalie Thurman was the mathematics department's unanimous choice as the nominee from Southwest Missouri University. Thurman is a senior who has received top scores on the first two actuarial exams.

Honorable Mention: Ileana Vasu

Ileana Vasu, a senior at Stanford University, is described as a "highly talented student of mathematics with an unusual level of determination and perseverance."

Special Recognition: Julie B. Kerr

In addition, Julie B. Kerr, a freshman at Washington State University, is given special recognition by the Prize Committee because of her outstanding achievements in mathematics so early in her career. She was one of 24 students qualifying nationwide to train for the Olympiad and is currently enrolled in graduate level courses.