Undergraduate awards and competitions

In addition to the department awards recognized at graduation and the recent announcement of a Goldwater Scholarship to Patrick Short, the end of the academic year brings news of other awards and honors garnered by undergraduates affiliated with Carolina Mathematics.

Graham Hawkes was the sole Mathematics major graduating with departmental honors this May. One of the requirements for departmental honors is a project conducted in association with a faculty member and a final report including both a written description, filed in the library, and an oral presentation before a faculty committee. Graham’s honors thesis was entitled “Simple surface singularities, their resolutions, and construction of some K3 surfaces”, supervised by Professor Justin Sawon, who described Graham’s project: “By taking the quotient of a torus by a finite group and resolving the singularities, he described the construction of some algebraic surfaces which generalize the classical Kummer K3 surfaces.”

Graham Hawkes was also inducted into the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society at a reception on April 10th at the Carolina Inn, as pictured above with Professor Sawon (right) and the Department Honors Advisor, Professor Prakash Belkale (left). Sigma Xi was founded in 1886 as an honors society for science and engineering. Its mission is to promote the health of the scientific enterprise and honor scientific achievement. The Society is headquartered in the Research Triangle and has over 50,000 members worldwide. Membership is by invitation only.

The Office of Undergraduate Research has offered Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) to two students working in the department: Shreyas Tikare and Eli Bingham.

Shreyas Tikare will work this summer with Professor Jason Metcalfe on a research project about local decay for the Maxwell field exterior to higher dimensional Schwarzschild black holes. Shreyas describes his project by saying, “Roughly speaking, does a small perturbation of a known solution to the Einstein field equations remain close to the original solution?” He continues with, “Maxwell’s equations describe the dynamics of electromagnetic radiation in a vacuum spacetime, the study of which is motivated by a desire to understand the Einstein field equations with respect to an electromagnetic field source. If black holes are understood to be stable, then an electromagnetic perturbation should be radiated away by the underlying black hole geometry, and by formulating a decay estimate for the Maxwell field, we roughly measure the rate at which this happens.”

Eli Bingham’s project with Professor Peter Mucha and postdoctoral associate Dr. Nishant Malik involves improved network representations for studying correlations in global climate data. Though offered a SURF award to continue this work in Summer 2013, Eli also received offers to attend multiple scientific summer schools and has opted to embrace those opportunities, with plans to continue on his climate networks project when he returns to Chapel Hill in the Fall.

The results from the Mathematical Association of America’s annual William Lowell Putnam Competition have been released. Twelve students from UNC entered the competition. Famously always difficult, over half of this year’s 4277 entrants across the USA and Canada scored 0 (out of a maximum of 120 points) so anyone with a positive score is to be congratulated! Among this group from Carolina, sophomore Marshall Lochbaum scored 39 (ranked 146.5th), sophomore Michael Greenberg scored 27 (ranked 481st), with sophomores Eugene Xiaoyin Liu, Yash Agrawal, and first-year Tyler Blanton also joining the ranks of participants who scored points. Doing so well so early in their undergraduate careers, we of course encourage all of these students to continue to enter the competition in their remaining chances before they graduate.

The results are also in for the 2013 Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM), held in conjunction with the Mathematical Contest in Modeling. Internationally, 957 teams participated, with 22 teams from the USA. The 20-page modeling report submitted by the Carolina team (profiled earlier) was awarded the designation “Honorable Mention” (meaning their report was considered somewhere among the top 14-54% of entrants). With the team consisting of a junior and two sophomores, we likewise encourage these students to continue to enter in the competition.

Hearty congratulations to all of the students involved in these honors and activities.