September 3, 2009
I love being a mathematics major because it is a challenge. Every class period is an opportunity to problem solve and ask new questions.
This past summer I had the opportunity to do research as part of an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. The experience was awesome! I worked closely with an advisor and another undergraduate student. Our project was about puzzles and graphs. We looked at two puzzles, The Towers of Hanoi and The Spin-Out Puzzle, and related these puzzles to graphs. We worked on labelings of the graphs corresponding to legal moves of the puzzles, algorithms to solve the puzzles, and encoding and decoding procedures using Hamiltonian paths. We wrote a mathematical paper and gave a 30-minute presentation about our work at the end of the program.
One of the best parts of the program was the opportunity to meet nine other undergraduate mathematics students from all across the country. I especially enjoyed learning about their mathematical perspectives and backgrounds. Plus we just had a really great time! In addition we had the opportunity to hear daily talks on many topics in mathematics from topology to partial differential equations, and the chance to attend MathFest in Portland. My REU experience has fueled my interested in attending graduate school for mathematics.
This year, I am continuing to develop my research skills through the honors thesis program. I am using the skills and knowledge I gained throughout my eight-week summer program to delve into a new project at CSB/SJU. This project will also be in graph theory. I am excited about the new project and I am looking forward to the opportunities to be able to share my work both on campus and at other conferences.
I am planning to attend graduate school in the fall. I am intrigued by many areas of mathematics including graph theory, logic, analysis, and mathematical biology. As of now, I am working through the application process. The year ahead will be a very exciting one!