Tag Archives: Mathematics

Honors Reunion (A Letter to Honors Freshmen)

By Adelia Humme ’15

Dear Honors freshmen,

Right now, your biggest concern is probably How will I make friends? You may be wondering Why do I have to live in the Honors Housing Community? Or What if I don’t like my roommate?

Worry no more. Living in Honors Housing is one of the best experiences you can have at Texas A&M. It’s one thing for me, as an Honors Advisor, to tell you that you’ll make plenty of friends. It’s another thing for me, as a former Honors student who lived in Lechner Hall for two years, to tell you that my cohort of fellow Honors students is still in contact more than a year after graduation. For Memorial Day weekend, more than a dozen former students from the University Honors program, Class of 2015, reunited in Houston. Our weekend included volleyball, bowling, swimming, two-stepping at Wild West, a crawfish boil, a visit to the planetarium, and about eight rounds of the card game Werewolf. We also put our college educations to the test at Escape the Room Texas, where we solved puzzles and searched for clues to find keys and open combo locks in order to “escape.” You’ll be delighted to hear that Honors pays off: we got out with one minute to spare on the one-hour time limit!

escape room
Honors Former Students Conquered the room!
Sam & Edward patriotism
Sam & Edward are patriotic!

More important than anything we did was reminiscing about our time in the Honors Housing Community, where we met as freshmen. Most of us were Sophomore Advisors (SAs) in 2012-2013; a few were “spouses,” or partners chosen by Sophomore Advisors to help mentor Honors freshmen. Living in Lechner and McFadden Halls together bonded us. We pulled all-nighters in Hobofo, Lechner’s second-floor foyer. As freshmen, we designed the greatest shack ever for Habitat for Humanity’s annual fundraiser, Shack-a-thon. It featured an enormous and detailed Nazgul for our Lord of the Rings theme. As SAs, we painted ourselves blue for free food at Blue Baker and hosted our own Hunger Games for the freshmen, arming them with pool noodles and flour-filled socks. We opened the annual talent show with our own rendition of “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King. And even after we moved out of HHC, we volunteered for Big Event, attended Muster, celebrated Ring Day, and dressed up for Ring Dance together.

Nerd Shack 2012
Nerd Shack 2012
sports
Sports!

The Aggie spirit is still strong in our hearts, and we still hold to our identity as Honors students. So if you’re afraid that you’re going to be alone in college, I hope I can reassure you. Living in the Honors Housing Community, I felt that I had found people who spoke not only my language but my dialect. My fellow Honors students liked what I liked; we watched the same sci-fi TV shows and knew the same geek culture references. You’ll make connections, like we did. You’ll make memories, like we did. You might meet your future spouse (no pressure!). And you very well could have a one-year reunion of your own in 2021.

crawfish boil better
Honors Former Students enjoy a crawfish boil

Oh, and I haven’t forgotten your second worry, which is probably What’s my plan? What am I going to do after college? Not knowing the answer right now is okay! You have plenty of time (and plenty of guidance within Honors) to help you figure it out. We were there, too, and we made it. Here’s what we’re doing now:

  • Alyssa Bennett is pursuing a PhD in naval architecture at the University of Michigan. She majored in ocean engineering and graduated with Foundation Honors. Alyssa was a Sophomore Advisor and a Junior Advisor.
  • Sam Carey is pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech through the Critical Skills Master’s Program at Sandia National Laboratories. Sam spends his summers working for Sandia in Albuquerque, NM. He majored in electrical engineering and graduated with University Honors and an Honors Minor in mathematics. Sam was a Sophomore Advisor.
  • Mallory Carson is a PhD student studying medical physics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She is working on methods to detect and correct errors in dose calculations to improve the quality of radiation therapy. Mallory majored in radiological health engineering and minored in mathematics. She was a Sophomore Advisor and an Undergraduate Research Scholar.
  • Danielle Cope is a planning/project engineer for ExxonMobil at the Baytown Olefins Plant. She majored in chemical engineering, minored in chemistry, and graduated with Engineering Honors and Foundation Honors. Danielle was Pj’s “spouse” in the Honors Housing Community.
  • Pj Downey is a systems engineer for Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He majored in aerospace engineering and was a Sophomore Advisor. Pj graduated with certificates in engineering project management and engineering business management.
  • Jacob Glenn is a healthcare consultant at Apogee Consulting Group in Houston. He majored in economics and was an Undergraduate Research Scholar and Sophomore Advisor.
  • April Holland is a business consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Houston. She double-majored in business honors and supply chain management. April was a Sophomore Advisor and graduated with Business Honors.
  • Edward Ji is in the Baylor College of Medicine Physician Assistant Program in Houston and continues performing as a violinist with the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra. He majored in biomedical sciences with a minor in psychology.
  • Taylor Peterson is an administrative assistant with Switched Over Consulting and plans a career with Texas Parks and Wildlife. She is majoring in wildlife & fisheries sciences and was a Sophomore Advisor.
  • Lauren Roverse is a second-year student at the University of Houston College of Optometry, where she is pursuing a Doctor of Optometry degree. Lauren majored in biology and was a Sophomore Advisor.
  • Eric Vavra is a chemical engineering PhD student at Rice University, where he is investigating foam flow dynamics in porous media. He majored in chemical engineering, minored in chemistry, and graduated with Engineering Honors. Eric was a Sophomore Advisor.
  • Trey Whitaker works as a developer for the Advance Technology Division of AmRisc, LLC. Trey majored in computer science and was April’s “spouse” in the Honors Housing Community.

As for me, I’m currently an Honors Advisor and the program coordinator for National Fellowships and University Scholars at Texas A&M, but I’ll soon be moving to Boston to begin graduate school at Emerson College. Leaving College Station after five years feels like the end of an era because Texas A&M, and particularly the Honors community, has been my second home. I hope you find that same sense of belonging, security, and no-holds-barred fun when you arrive.

Best of luck, and gig ’em!

 

University Scholars Exploration Series – Influential Equations

Each semester, the University Scholars enroll in small-group, discussion-based seminars. In Spring 2016, Scholar Chloe Dixon ’17 taught the seminar “Exploring Influential Equations” as her Undergraduate Teacher Scholars capstone project. One of her students, computer science major Steven Leal ’18, reflects on the class and a few lessons learned.

University Scholar Steven Leal '18
University Scholar Steven Leal ’18

By Steven Leal

“What” is a simple question. It’s typical that the majority of modern society is equipped to handle this inquiry. Simple requests for knowledge are normally met with programmed responses.

Take for instance, “What’s the distance from London to Paris?” Instinctively, many of us reach into our pockets and answer, “I don’t know, let me ask google…”

What’s the best series on Netflix to binge?” We’d follow with an opinion from Rotten Tomatoes.

What’s the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”

As a collective, humanity has painstakingly timed the migrations of most birds species and rattled off about their favorite shows long enough to prepare a safety net of information we can rely on for our most common shared experiences.

But how about “why?” It’s a simple word, one less letter than “what,” but the syllable requires so many words in return. “Why do we fall back down when we jump? Why is the sky blue? Why is there an unexpected item in the bagging area?” Throughout history, we have always struggled to tie our simple experiences of the past together to explain the present and even predict the future.

Thankfully, there are and have been a few among us with crazy hair, crazy ideas, and that are crazy enough themselves to become offerings to the epiphany gods in our stead. They get these notions in their heads that wonderful phenomena are reproducible, that our natural world is governed by a set of rules we can understand and that answering tiresome questions like “why” can help widen the safety net for the rest of us common folk.

Over the spring semester, our Influential Equations seminar took it upon ourselves to find those with the craziest hair, the craziest ideas, and who were just crazy enough themselves to examine how reasoned insight can change our understanding of the world around us. From the simplicity of the Pythagorean Theorem to the echelons of Schrodinger’s wave equation, we discussed the derivation of these famous formulas, their widespread applications in today’s society, and how many women you must court before you can develop general relativity (and it was quite a few to say the least).

Toward the beginning of the semester, our class tackled our heroes of the past that developed the building blocks of calculation using, for example, the quadratic formula and the fundamental theorem of calculus. With more advanced methods of calculation, mathematicians such as Leonhard Euler could find common relationships in geometry that would later lead to uses in advanced computer rendering algorithms and applications far beyond expectations of the past.

Complex numbers, thermodynamics, and Maxwell’s equations all found their way into our discussions nearing the end of the school year. The applications of magnetism with bullet trains, rail guns, MRI machines, and many other advancements were among the multitude of other formulas we examined to understand just what became of us as a society after a few eureka moments.

The summation of our experience participating in this seminar boils down to a few important points. Firstly, if you are ever recognized for your profound contribution to aiding in the comprehension of the known universe, make sure you get your portrait painted with either an impressive hairdo or a towel on your head to compensate for your lack thereof (we’re looking at you, Euler). Secondly, you can make wonderful discoveries for humanity after coming from any background, as long as you have an obsession for knowledge or a personal rivalry you take a bit too far. It seems historically proven that a little bit of crazy can get you a little closer to answering “why” if you mix in a pen, paper and a little math.

Freshmen are recruited each spring to join the University Scholars program. To learn more, please see: http://honors.tamu.edu/Honors/University-Scholars.

A class activity had Augustus Ellis ’17, Garrett Goble ’16, and James Felderhoff ’17 smash cups to demonstrate the second law of thermodynamics, that entropy always increases.
A class activity had Augustus Ellis ’17, Garrett Goble ’16, and James Felderhoff ’17 smash cups to demonstrate the second law of thermodynamics, that entropy always increases.

Andy Baxter Selected as a Finalist for Mitchell Scholarship

Andy Baxter '16, Mitchell Finalist
Andy Baxter ’16, Mitchell Finalist. Photo credit: Carol Clayton

LAUNCH: National Fellowships congratulates Andy Baxter ’16, a physics and mathematics double major with a business administration minor, on his selection as a finalist for the George J. Mitchell Scholarship. The Mitchell scholarship funds graduate study at any university in Ireland, and only twenty students nationally are chosen as finalists. Andy, who is a senior University Honors and Honors in Mathematics student, underwent an extensive application process at A&M in order to obtain the campus’s nomination for this National Fellowship.

In late November, Andy flew to Washington, D.C. for his finalist interview and reception, having previously succeeded in a semifinalist interview via Skype. He recounts the experience in his own words:

“The US-Ireland Alliance hosted me in the elegant DuPont Circle Hotel and treated us to a wonderful weekend. The evening before my interview, I had the privilege to attend a reception at the Irish Embassy in Washington, D.C. This reception was the best part of the process since I was able to meet former classes of Mitchell Scholars, some of the selection panel, and friends of the program. Serena and Trina, the directors of the Mitchell Scholarship, helped connect me to people working in my field so that they could provide me with advice for the future. During the reception, I also met the other finalists. Even though we had plenty of hors d’oeuvres at the reception, the group of finalists attended dinner at a nearby Irish restaurant. This allowed me to really get to know the other finalists. Throughout the process, Serena and Trina continually told the finalists that we were all qualified to be Mitchell Scholars, and the decision at that point was completely subjective. By having dinner with the other finalists, I truly discovered the truth behind this statement.

The day of the interview actually proceeded very slowly. My interview time was at 2:30 PM, so I was free until 2:00 PM when I had to have my picture taken. Even the process of selecting a portrait made me feel special as the photographer was extremely friendly and helpful. In the interview, I was seated at the head of an 11 person table. Serena and Trina sat closest to me, but they did not participate in the interview or selection. Although the interview is typically a very casual conversation, almost as if at a dinner party, one of my interviewers turned the conversation to politics and religion. Another interviewer humorously noted after about five minutes of discussion, “Those are the two topics you should never discuss at a dinner party.” Perhaps the divisive nature of this issue worked against me in the selection, but the selection panel takes so many other factors into account, including the collective dynamic of the 12 Mitchell Scholars, that this may not have even affected the selection.”

Among the notables present at the embassy reception were Frank Bruni, op-ed columnist for The New York Times, and representatives from BioMarin Pharmaceutical, the Department of Justice, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, and Palantir Technologies. Although not selected as a Mitchell Scholar, Andy considers the finalists’ weekend “an amazing opportunity to meet incredible people, see an amazing city and learn a lot more about Ireland.”

Andy and the LAUNCH office extend their thanks to the Association of Former Students for its generous support of fellowship candidates’ travel to interviews.

For more information about applying to nationally competitive scholarships, please visit http://natlfellows.tamu.edu/National-Fellowships/About-National-Fellowships. The campus nomination process for the next round of Mitchell scholarships will take place in late Spring 2016.

Five Aggies Nominated for Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell Scholarships

LAUNCH: National Fellowships congratulates our five 2015 nominees for the Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Scholarships for post-graduate study!

Each of these applicants has devoted time to self-reflection and goal development as they revised their essays, requested letters of recommendation, and poured over detailed application instructions. We are equally proud of their perseverance in the fellowship process and of their outstanding accomplishments throughout their college careers.

2015 Marshall Nominee Mariah Bastin '14
2015 Marshall Nominee Mariah Bastin ’14

Mariah Bastin ’14, who double-majored in German and international studies – politics and diplomacy, has been nominated for the Marshall Scholarship and hopes to obtain a PhD in International Relations. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2013 with Honors Fellows and Undergraduate Research Scholars distinctions, as well as National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Phi Eta Sigma National Society, Phi Beta Kappa and Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi honors cords. In 2015, Mariah graduated from the George Bush School of Government & Public Service with a Master of International Affairs. She received the Dean’s Certificate in Leadership. She also served as the President of the German Club and was elected as an International Affairs Representative for the Class of 2015. Fluent in German and French, Mariah has previously worked on the Military Staff Committee of the US Mission to the United Nations and as a German instructor for the Bush School. She is currently employed as an editorial fellow by GovLoop in Washington DC.

2015 Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Nominee Andy Baxter '16
2015 Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Nominee Andy Baxter ’16

Andy Baxter ’16, a Physics and mathematics double major with a business administration minor, has been nominated for the Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Scholarships. He hopes to combine a business education with studies in aerospace physics and engineering in preparation for a management career in aerospace innovation. Additionally, if selected for a scholarship at the University of Oxford, Andy plans to join the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics to apply his studies in physics and business to his Christian faith. Andy’s primary involvement at Texas A&M has been through Freshmen Leaders in Christ, in which he served as a director. He has also been a Muster Host for the past two years, founded a discussion group for Christian physicists, served as an Impact counselor, assisted with a “Five for Yell” campaign, played in many intramural sports, and is currently serving as treasurer for the Society of Physics Students. During his summers as a college student, Andy has participated in research on superconducting magnets at the Texas A&M Accelerator Research Laboratory, studied abroad through the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program, and interned at the IT Alliance for Public Sector in Washington DC through the Texas A&M Public Policy Internship Program.

2015 Rhodes Nominee Hunter Hampton '16
2015 Rhodes Nominee Hunter Hampton ’16

Hunter Hampton ’16, seeking degrees in economics and international studies, with a minor in German, has been nominated for the Rhodes Scholarship with the goal of studying international relations at Oxford University. Hunter is a University Scholar, an Undergraduate Research Scholar, and a member of the Cornerstone Liberal Arts Honors Program, University Honors, and Phi Beta Kappa. As a junior, Hunter wrote his undergraduate thesis on entrepreneurship and conflict resolution in Palestine, and now as a senior, he works in the A&M Economics Research Laboratory on a project about the effects of mandated volunteering on total volunteering. Along with his academic pursuits, Hunter interned at the Institut für Europäische Politik in Berlin, Germany, and spent three years as a member of the Student Conference on National Affairs (SCONA), rising to Chief of Staff in his final year. Outside of academics, Hunter enjoys biking, playing the erhu poorly, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

2015 Marshall Nominee Molly Huff '16
2015 Marshall Nominee Molly Huff ’16

Molly Huff ’16, a Chemistry major with a minor in mathematics, has been nominated for the Marshall Scholarship to pursue a Masters of Philosophy in chemistry at a UK university. She is an active undergraduate researcher, working in the Polymer Nanocomposites Laboratory for two years and presenting her two publications at an American Chemical Society national conference. Currently, Molly is writing an Undergraduate Research Scholar thesis in physical organic chemistry, studying heavy-atom tunneling both experimentally and computationally. This summer, she completed an internship at OXEA in Bay City where she worked on research and development of a new homogeneous catalyst for the plant. She has also been actively involved in Aggie Sisters for Christ and as a tutor for all levels of chemistry courses. Molly has traveled around the world and hopes to one day live in a foreign country to enhance global chemistry research.

2015 Rhodes and Marshall Nominee Annie Melton '16
2015 Rhodes and Marshall Nominee Annie Melton ’16

Annie Melton ‘16, an anthropology and classics double major with a minor in geoinformatics, has been nominated for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships. Annie, a University Scholar and Undergraduate Research Ambassador, has been heavily involved in archaeological research, beginning her freshman year in the research lab of Dr. Mike Waters. Several of these projects, including her senior honors thesis under the direction of Dr. Kelly Graf, were presented at national and regional conferences. Annie has taken part in archaeological projects in Alaska, Israel, and Portugal, while also analyzing stone tool assemblages from sites in Kentucky and Tennessee, all of which date to differing time periods in the archaeological record. Following graduate school, where she will pursue a PhD in archaeology and focus on the emergence of early modern humans, she hopes to pursue a career in which she can juggle her research passions while teaching the next generation of archaeologists.

The Rhodes Scholarship is for graduate study at Oxford University, the Marshall Scholarship is for graduate study at any UK university, and the George J. Mitchell Scholarship is for graduate study at any university in Ireland. Nominees will soon be notified whether they have been chosen to advance to the interview round of selection. We wish them the best of luck!

LAUNCH: National Fellowships is grateful to the Association of Former Students for their generous support, which applicants benefit from through our programs as well as support for travel to interviews.

2015 Astronaut Scholars Announced

Texas A&M is fortunate to announce the designation of two 2015 Astronaut Scholars, Kirstin Maulding ‘16 and Will Linz ‘16. This is the second time that two of our nominees have been selected to receive this prestigious award from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which seeks to recognize outstanding undergraduates working in STEM fields who will have the potential to be next-generation leaders.

2015 Astronaut Scholar Kirstin Maulding '16
2015 Astronaut Scholar Kirstin Maulding ’16

Maulding is an Honors Student from Spring Branch, Texas majoring in molecular and cell biology with minors in genetics and neuroscience. She has been working in biological research since high school and has continued her commitment to research as an undergraduate, both in the lab of Dr. Bruce Riley and as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador. Maulding’s combination of ability, creativity, and work ethic resulted in her publishing a paper in a peer-reviewed journal by her sophomore year. Her career goals include pursuing research related to neurological diseases such as Alzheimers. Read Maulding’s nomination profile here.

2015 Astronaut Scholar, Will Linz '16
2015 Astronaut Scholar, Will Linz ’16

Linz is an Honors Student from Temple, Texas majoring in mathematics with a minor in German. When he graduates in May 2016, he will have completed both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics. Linz got involved in undergraduate research as a first-semester freshman, completed his undergraduate thesis as a sophomore, and continues to do research with Dr. Catherine Yan in combinatorics. He has presented his research at professional meetings and campus research expos, and has submitted his work for publication in a top mathematics journal. Linz currently serves on the Executive Board for Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal and is also an Undergraduate Research Ambassador. He is planning a career in mathematical discovery and serving as a liaison to help mathematicians and computer scientists develop mathematical tools for practical use in computer science and technology. Read Linz’s nomination profile here.

The campus community is invited to a public lecture and award presentation on Tuesday, October 6 at 10:30 AM with Former Astronaut Charlie Duke (Brigadier General, USAF, Retired) to honor Maulding and Linz and present each of them with a $10,000 scholarship. Following the award presentation, Mr. Duke will give a lecture about his experiences as an astronaut on the Apollo 16 mission and as Capcom on the Apollo 11 mission.

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required for entry and are available through the Memorial Student Center Box Office.

digitalevite_charlieduke_LGRelated: See post honoring Maulding & Linz on the TAMU College of Science Blog

Three TAMU Students Recognized in Goldwater Competition

The Goldwater Scholarship is a competitive National Fellowship that recognizes students with outstanding potential who wish to pursue careers in STEM research and rewards them with a maximum of a $7500 scholarship to be used in the coming academic year. The 2015 Goldwater Scholars were selected from a pool of 1206 math, science and engineering majors nominated by faculty at top academic institutions for their outstanding academic achievement and research potential.

Three Texas A&M Students were recognized this past March for their outstanding academic achievements in biochemistry, biomedical engineering, and mathematics by the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation. Erica Gacasan, a ’16 biomedical engineering major, and Aaron Griffin, a ’16 biochemistry major, have been selected as Goldwater Scholars and William Linz, a ‘16 mathematics major, has been named a Goldwater Honorable Mention.

Female student with long dark hair in a maroon and white t-shirt
2015 Goldwater Scholar Erica Gacasan ’16

Gacasan, who has been developing artificial scaffolds for regenerating bone and cartilage with Dr. Melissa Grunlan in the department of Biomedical Engineering, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering. Gacasan’s outstanding research and academic strength, including her role as a team leader for the Aggie Research Scholars Program, led to her selection as one of only 16 students to join the 2015 Biomedical Engineering Summer Internship Program at the National Institutes of Health. Gacasan’s remarkable research acumen and communication abilities resulted in her being chosen to represent TAMU undergraduate research at Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Austin and as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador here on campus. Gacasan has also participated in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program.

2015 Goldwater Scholar Aaron Griffin '16
2015 Goldwater Scholar Aaron Griffin ’16

Griffin, who has been researching the mechanisms of mitochondrial disease with Dr. Vishal Gohil in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, plans to pursue an M.D. and a Ph.D. in cancer cell biology after graduation. Griffin’s research activities and academic excellence, including his participation in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, led to his being selected for the 2014 Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award in Undergraduate Research for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Griffin has also taken on leadership positions as as the Co-Chair of the Explorations Executive Board where he oversees the process of proposal solicitation, article review and selection, editing, layout and publication of TAMU’s Undergraduate Journal and a 2015-2016 Undergraduate Research Ambassador where he will spread the word about the excitement of undergraduate research .

Male student with short dark hair and glasses, wearing a maroon polo shirt.
2015 Goldwater Honorable Mention William Linz ’16

Linz, who has been investigating the use of mathematics to model searching strategies through large volumes of data with Dr. Catherine Yan in the Department of Mathematics, plans to pursue a Ph. D. in mathematics. Linz’s unusual and complex insight into combinatorics has led to a publication in a professional peer-reviewed mathematics journal and successful completion of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. His leadership and desire to communicate a love of science in general and mathematics in particular have been honed through his service as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador and a member of the Explorations Executive Board.

Current freshman and sophomores interested in applying for the 2016 Goldwater Scholarship should contact Jamaica Pouncy, Program Coordinator, National Fellowships and Honors Academic Advisor, jamaica.pouncy@tamu.edu.

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Nominee Will Linz

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Award Nominee, Will Linz '16
Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Award Nominee, Will Linz ’16

HUR is forwarding the packets of three outstanding students as the TAMU nominees for the 2015 Astronaut Scholarship Foundation competition. The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was started by six of the original Mercury 7 astronauts to aid the United States in retaining world leadership in the development of cutting edge science and technology. Since its inception in 1984, the Mercury 7 have been joined by astronauts who have served on other Mercury missions as well as the Apollo, Gemini, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs. The $10,000 ASF Scholarship is the largest award presented to STEM majors based purely on merit, as demonstrated by initiative, creativity and productivity in research as well as excellence in coursework and dedication to leadership in their fields. Application for the Astronaut Scholarship is open to sophomores and juniors in all STEM fields starting in late December and culminating in early February with the selection of the TAMU nominees. Meet the first of our 2015 nominees!

What makes an Astronaut Scholar nominee? Academic excellence and passion for research are a given, but 2015 TAMU Nominee Will Linz ’16 has something more—an extraordinary talent for mathematics and the strong desire to communicate the elegance of a mathematical proof and the powerful implications of new branches of mathematics to non-mathematicians. Linz is in the University Honors and Math Honors program, majoring in mathematics with a minor in German from Temple, Texas. He will graduate with both a BS and MS in Mathematics in Spring 2016.

In addition to his heavy course load of undergraduate and graduate courses, Linz has pursued his passion for research starting freshman year with an aptitude that resulted in Fall 2013 in his becoming one of the very few sophomore Undergraduate Research Scholars ever. And when theses were evaluated in the Spring of 2014, Linz’ was on the short list for best thesis. The research discussed in his thesis, which analyzes ways of calculating how to sort and handle objects arranged in many different ways, has been submitted for publication at a top mathematics journal. Linz has continued his research on combinatorics, which is the base for theoretical computer science, with Dr. Catherine Yan during the academic year and participated in an REU on Chemical Graph theory at the University of Texas-Tyler this past summer. He has presented his research at numerous meetings including the 2015 Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Antonio, Texas, MathFest in Portland, Oregon and multiple research expos here at Texas A&M including Student Research Week, where he was awarded first place in the Mathematics and Computer Science oral division.

Linz has also followed his desire to mentor and communicate about research in general and math in particular since his freshman year. As an incoming freshman, Linz was chosen as the youngest ever member of the Editorial Board for Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal. His incisive comments and astute reviews are greatly respected, and led to his promotion to the Executive Board in 2013. Linz further honed his skills in communication upon being selected as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador in 2014. This allowed him to receive additional training in presentations and to discuss undergraduate research and his own experiences with mathematics to audiences as disparate as parents and community members, prospective students, current students, graduate students and faculty.

Linz is acutely aware of how impenetrable cutting-edge mathematics seems to non-mathematicians, even to researchers in other STEM fields who are most likely to appreciate and apply the novel insights he and others are uncovering. Linz hopes to leverage both his increasing mathematical expertise and his communication skills to “translate” mathematical discoveries to the world of computer science and logic to enable faster integration of mathematical insights such as breakthroughs in combinatorics into technological advances in areas such as complex data queries and web searching algorithms.