PRIMES: Gabby Studt's Story
When I was in elementary school, I joined a local math club, and quickly discovered that I enjoyed the challenge of math problems. As a younger student I was intrigued by the beautiful (and yet evasive) nature of the solutions. I studied some mathematics independently, and participated in math enrichment programs (namely MathPath) in middle school, and only grew more curious about the numerous branches of math.
Until recently, the majority of my exposure to mathematical concepts had come through the contests and olympiads I had prepared for, as well as the more contest-oriented summer programs I had attended, including IDEA Math and MOP. Contest problems are interesting, teach useful problem-solving strategies, and often serve as a background on which to display a beautiful solution. But even a result proved in an olympiad problem is known, the solution usually contrived, and often doesn't have implications to mathematics.
Before beginning my work in PRIMES, I was much more accustomed to these comforts of contest math. I was unsure how I would fare doing research, since my experience in math was limited to calculus, contests, and knowledge I had gained through independent study. Nevertheless, I was very excited to get started. My mentor, Daniel Thompson, soon gave me background reading in Abstract Algebra, a topic new to me. With Daniel's help, I began to explore group theory, and soon gained a good enough understanding to get to work on my project.
When I began to work on my problem, Daniel was very willing to discuss any uncertainties and questions I had about my research. The relevant literature to my topic is somewhat technical, but he was able to pose thought-provoking questions so that our meetings were always productive and enlightening. Although it can feel daunting to confront a research problem, I've found quite a bit of excitement in the small steps that I've made so far. Participating in PRIMES has made me even more eager to study other areas in math, and to collaborate and discuss my work with peers as well as those with more experience. That's why I think that anyone with a similar passion for math would also enjoy this program greatly. If you love math, you should apply, even if you don't think you will get in!
Gabby Studt worked on the project Higher Bruhat order on Weyl groups of Type B under the mentorship of Daniel Thompson.
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