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.
Zvezdelina E. Stankova of Bryn Mawr College has been named the recipient of the third annual Alice T. Schafer Mathematics Prize sponsored by AWM.
The prize committee has also named Julie B. Kerr of Washington State University as runner-up and selected nine other outstanding nominees for honorable mention: Marcia Geiger Isakson (double major in applied mathematics and physics, U.S. Military Academy), Cheryl P. Grood (senior, University of Michigan), Kristine Hauser (graduate of Grinnell College), Laura Hegerle (graduate of Colorado College), Eugenie Hunsicker (graduate of Haverford College), Mary C. Joyce (graduate of the University of Massachusetts), Martha J. Mancewicz (graduate of Kalamazoo College), Jennifer Williams(senior, Oklahoma State University), and Virginia E. Wright(graduate, joint B.S./M.S. program, Emory University).
Zvezdelina E. Stankova, a 1992 graduate of Bryn Mawr College, has earned wide recognition for her research and performance in mathematics competitions. She participated last summer in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, and her research there on classifying permutations with forbidden subsequences of length four was praised as impressive work on a difficult problem. Her paper on the subject was well received at the joint mathematics meetings of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of American in Baltimore in January. In addition to her research in combinatorics, she has done advanced work in a number of areas. In nominating Stankova, Professor Rhonda J. Hughes of Bryn Mawr wrote, "Her results are strikingly original, and one is always reminded that her work is that of an extraordinary mathematician." A two-time silver medalist on the International Mathematics Olympiad team from her native Bulgaria, known as both an excellent problem-solver and a first-rate expositor, Stankova was the Runner-Up for the Schafer Prize in 1991. She will return to the REU Program in Duluth this summer before beginning graduate work in mathematics at Harvard University in the fall.
Julie B. Kerr, this year's Runner-Up, will graduate in December from Washington State University. She received Special Recognition from the 1990 Schafer Prize committee for her early achievements, including distinction in graduate courses as a first-year student. In each of the last two years, she finished in the top sixty students on the nationwide Putnam Examination for undergraduates. Following a Budapest Semester in Mathematics as a sophomore, Kerr participated in the 1991 NSF-sponsored Mills Summer Mathematics Institute, and she will work this summer in computational number theory at the REU at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. An aspiring teacher, Kerr also finds time to tutor in mathematics.
Marcia Geiger Isakson graduated this year with a rare double major in applied mathematics and physics at the U.S. Military Academy. Among her honors in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, she won the Top Cadet award in the Research Seminar in Applied Mathematical Projects for work done in a semester at Brookhaven National Laboratory. She was a member of the USMA team that earned Honorable Mention in the 1992 Mathematical Contest in Modeling, sponsored by COMAP. Recipient of a Hertz Fellowship, Isakson will be a graduate student in physics at the University of Texas at Austin in the fall.
Cheryl P. Grood graduated from the University of Michigan this year, having been a central figure in the Undergraduate Math Club and MAA Student Chapter there. A 1990 participant in the REU at Rose-Hulman Institute, Grood won an Honorable Mention in the 1991 Schafer Prize competition as a junior. She spent last summer at the Mills Summer Mathematics Institute, where she will return by invitation as a student assistant this summer before entering graduate school at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Kristine Hauser, a 1992 graduate of Grinnell College, was cited for her maturity in both courses and independent work. She spent two summers doing joint research on the word problem in cycle-free groups with faculty member Royce Wolf, and she presented their results at this year's Conference on Undergraduate Mathematics at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Hauser will begin graduate study in mathematics at the University of Chicago this fall.
Laura Hegerle, who graduated this year from Colorado College, was chosen to participate in an undergraduate research program at Harvey Mudd College after her sophomore year. Since then, she has maintained an interest in graph theory, speaking on her work at a regional MAA meeting and a university seminar in the field. Hegerle plans to go to graduate school after teaching mathematics in the Peace Corps.
Eugenie Hunsicker graduated this year from Haverford College, having spent her junior year immersed in a "broad array" of mathematical subjects at Oxford University. She devoted two summers to doing research in algebraic combinatorics with faculty member Curtis Greene, and she presented their results at a recent MAA session of student papers. Hunsicker will enter graduate school in mathematics at the University of Chicago this fall.
Mary C. Joyce, a 1992 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, wrote a senior honors thesis on statistical estimation with censored data. She spent her junior year at the University of Freiburg, and this year she was a member of a UMass team that won Honorable Mention in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling. In the fall, Joyce will enter the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for graduate work in applied mathematics.
Martha J. Mancewicz, who graduated from Kalamazoo College this year, spent part of her junior year with the Budapest Semester in Mathematics program and part of her senior year in the Mathematics Department of the General Motors Research Laboratory. Her work at GM on developable surfaces was presented to mathematicians, engineers, and visiting high school students at GM and also to a meeting of MAA Student Chapters. Mancewicz will attend the University of North Carolina next year as a graduate student in biostatistics.
Jennifer Williams is currently writing a senior honors thesis and expects to graduate this summer from Oklahoma State University. A veteran Putnam Exam entrant, Williams provided the impetus for a Problem Solving Seminar in her department. She was a member of OSU's 1992 Mathematical Contest in Modeling team, whose solution to the "Emergency Power Restoration System Problem" was judged Outstanding (one of only five such awards in the contest as a whole). The team also won the SIAM prize for that problem, and their faculty advisor cites Williams' creative leadership as a significant factor in their success.
Virginia E. Wright completed a joint B.S./M.S. program this year at Emory University. She spent two summers in REU programs, working in number theory and cryptography at Florida State (1990) and in graph theory at the University of Minnesota at Duluth (1991). She has continued her research on n-tuple vertex graphs in the past year and spoken on her results at a number of conferences. Wright has been awarded a Marshall Scholarship to study mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge.