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PRIMES: Jessica Li's Story



PRIMES introduced me to problem discovery in mathematics. Before PRIMES, my encounters with math had mostly been through solving problems other people had created in books, on websites, or in contests. Through PRIMES, I entered a new level of mathematical study by discovering the problems within mathematics that I would like to study and designing and implementing procedures to solve those problems. The research experience that PRIMES provides is invaluable and gave me the tools to approach new problems and thus use my knowledge to make discoveries.

The project I completed through PRIMES on snowflake modeling is quite interdisciplinary, so I was able to learn and use information from physics and computer science as well as mathematics. The interdisciplinary nature of the project showed me the endless potential of mathematics.

My mentor, Professor Laura Schaposnik, was extremely helpful throughout the entire research process. She introduced me to the general field of snowflake modeling, provided direction and guidance in each step of the research process, and provided suggestions on ways for me to go more in depth in my study. She also informed me of the connection between my work and chaos theory and provided excellent feedback in the editing of my research paper. Through our collaboration, my mentor and I also developed ways to share information about my project and snowflake modeling in general with other people of different mathematical backgrounds through presentations, activities, and puzzles.

The PRIMES Conference was the perfect platform for me to share the progress I had made in my project, share the ideas I had for the next steps in the project, receive feedback from others, and learn more about the work other PRIMES students had been doing.

Through PRIMES, I have not only learned much more about mathematics and come to appreciate mathematics even more but I have also developed my confidence, collaborative abilities, research skills, and communication abilities. Because of PRIMES, I am even more excited and prepared to continue mathematics research in college and beyond. I would definitely recommend PRIMES to any student interested in mathematics!


Jessica Li worked on the project On the Modeling of Snowflake Growth Using Hexagonal Automata under the mentorship of Prof. Laura Schaposnik, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

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