2024 math student prizes

May 21, 2024

Written by Miki and the prize recipients.

The Math graduation party was on Monday, May 20, in the KT 8th floor lounge. It was wonderful to have so many of you there :)  

To all of our graduating seniors: We are very proud of you, and cannot wait to see what you will do next. Please do let us know! 

This year’s mathematics prizes were announced at the party by Professor Igor Frenkel, together with Erica Weiler ‘24 and Jack Miller ‘24 (last year’s recipients of the Stanley and Beckwith prizes). 

Each prize recipient shared an anecdote from their time at Yale at the party. For this article, they also wrote about their plans, and shared advice for new math majors.

The DeForest prizes for proficiency in pure and applied mathematics were awarded to Olivia Fugikawa ‘24 and Chris Yao ‘24.

Olivia will be working as a signal processing engineer next year at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. She hopes to spend the summer going on hikes in her hometown, spending time with family, and keeping her dog entertained. 

Advice to new math majors

Sometimes it will take more than one try to solve a problem — sometimes it will take more than 10! But trust the process and have fun with it. Also, build connections in the math major, whether through classes, office hours, or extracurricular activities like YUMS events. I found a great community in the major, both students and professors, that not only helped me learn the material but supported me through all four years of study. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your peers and professors, and to be the kind of person that builds this community for everyone.

Chris will be pursuing a PhD in mathematics at UC Berkeley next year. He looks forward to spending the beginning of summer seeing family in China and traveling with friends to Southeast Asia before returning home to Iowa. In his free time at Berkeley, Chris is looking forward to hiking, playing tennis, surfing, and reading.

Advice to new math majors

 It’s important to assess your understanding every once in a while. Math is a subject that builds on itself a lot, and not fully understanding a concept will only hinder your learning in the future. Among other things, trying to explain what you’ve learned to a friend can help you catch these gaps, which you should fill by going to office hours or reading about it. I know asking questions seems scary, but your professors, friends, and peers want to see you learn and succeed. You won’t regret asking.

The George Beckwith prize for proficiency in astronomy or mathematics is awarded to Jorge Blanco Herrera ’24.

Jorge will be pursuing a PhD in Statistics at UC Berkeley next year, with a primary interest in Probability Theory and Mathematical Statistics. This summer he will read a bunch of random stuff. 

Advice to new math majors

Experiment with different study methods to find what works best for you and stick with it. The math community at Yale is very collaborative, which benefits many students. However, if you find that working on problems independently helps you understand the material better, don’t be afraid to do so. When I was a young math major, I initially followed the standard approach of joining study groups. Over time, I realized that this strategy was not the most effective for me. Trust yourself and choose the best study method for your learning.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember that, at the end of the day, you are in class to understand something. Make sure to take advantage of all the available resources and opportunities to aid your learning.

The Anthony D. Stanley memorial prize, given out to a junior for excellence in pure and applied mathematics, is awarded to River Newman ‘25.

River is excited to be doing an independent reading project on algebraic geometry and scheme theory this summer with Professor Sam Raskin. They also hope to spend plenty of time practicing their hobby of blacksmithing, cooking some new recipes, and reading books.

Advice to new math majors

Work with other people, early and often! Math isn’t easy, and some weeks you’ll be very glad to have someone to collaborate on problem sets with. Your peers can bring useful perspectives or background knowledge to a problem that you otherwise wouldn’t have thought about. Plus, helping others when they have trouble with something is a good way to make friends and understand the material better.

The John Alan Lewis Summer Research Fellowship is awarded to a winning proposal by an undergraduate student majoring in mathematics who wishes to pursue their studies over the summer. This year’s fellowship is awarded to Josh Zeitlin ‘25.

Josh is a junior math major enthusiastic about almost every aspect of mathematics. During the summer Josh plans to work on a geometry project with Professor Neitzke while also doing history research in the Stanford archives during his free time. Josh eventually hopes to go to graduate school and pursue a PhD in mathematics.

Research proposal summary

This project delves into the topic of vector bundles over smooth manifolds. A vector bundle over a smooth manifold is another manifold equipped with a projection map to the base manifold such that each of the fibers are vector spaces (either real or complex). The most basic example of this is the tangent bundle which is the collection of all tangent spaces of each point of the base manifold. Our goal will be to read through the most prominent literature on vector bundles and special invariants of these - called characteristic classes - used to classify them. In particular we will use these invariants to study the notions of parallelizability of manifolds and cobordism classes of manifolds

Advice to new math majors

My number one piece of advice is to not rush.  This advice may sound trite and is certainly hard to do given the social pressure at a school like Yale to be successful. However, in order to get the most out of your mathematical education you have to spend a lot of time with your coursework. Specifically, problem sets are the most important aspect of this. Make sure to not just go through the motions but to really spend a lot of time on problem sets as this is the best way to learn and enhance your understanding of the material..

As an additional note, Andrew Milas ‘24 was awarded the Russell Henry Chittenden Prize, a university-wide award for “the senior majoring in the natural sciences or in mathematics who ranks highest in scholarship” (quoted from the linked Yale news article).