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R-MC Alumna Wins Mathematics Award
R-MC Alumna Wins Mathematics Award
Lisa Borum '13
Randolph-Macon College alumna
Lisa Borum ’13
recently won a Pi Mu Epsilon Student Presentation Award. The award, sponsored by the American Mathematical Society, American Statistical Association, and Budapest Semesters in Mathematics Program, was presented at the annual meeting of Pi Mu Epsilon, the national mathematics honor society. The meeting took place during Mathfest, the summer gathering of the Mathematical Association of America, held July 31-August 3, 2013 in Hartford, Connecticut.
Research and Mentorship
major, researched the pebbling numbers of chessboard and Sudoku graphs. Her ongoing research began in 2012, when she participated in the Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (
) program. The SURF program was established in 1995 through a generous gift made by Ben '64 and Peggy Schapiro. The Schapiros continue to support this program, which promotes scholarly undergraduate research by R-MC students in all disciplines.
“I started the research after hearing a conference talk about graph theory by Mathematics Professor Robin Blankenship (Morehead University) that I very much enjoyed,” explains Borum. Under the mentorship of
R-MC Mathematics Professor Chirashree Bhattacharya
and Blankenship, Borum sought to prove established conjectures on the least number of pebbles that could be placed in any formation on a given graph such that any “cell” or vertex could be reached by certain available moves on the graph. Borum considered graphs arising naturally from chessboard moves, Sudoku and some increasingly complex variations of these.
“Lisa really drove the entire project with her keen intuition, which kept getting sharper from tirelessly playing with M&Ms on giant cutouts of graphs,” says Bhattacharya. “It was an absolute pleasure to watch her through this process of exploration. This kind of deep, prolonged involvement in one particular problem is difficult to achieve in a classroom setting, but absolutely essential if one is to truly gain a glimpse of the beauty of mathematics just beneath the rocky surface of facts and formulas. The SURF program fills this gap very well, providing the resources and a great environment for such endeavors.”
An Exceptional Award
R-MC Mathematics Professor Eve Torrence
is thrilled with Borum’s well-deserved recognition.
“We have had many excellent students present talks at this meeting over the years, but Lisa is the first to win an award for an exceptional talk,” says Torrence. “This is quite an achievement. The students who attend this conference and present their research are among the best undergraduate mathematics students in the country.”
A Passion for Research
Borum, the 2013 recipient of The William Hesse Memorial Award, which is awarded annually to a student who has made significant contributions to the physics department through research, scholarship or service, looks forward to continuing her research.
“SURF gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in something for which I have a passion. I learned some very interesting mathematics, and a lot about public speaking. Now, even though I still have miles to go on the research itself, I have been able to enjoy sparking interest in others through my enjoyment of my research.”
During the coming year, Borum will continue her research. She hopes to publish a paper and take her GREs for mathematics and physics, and she plans on pursuing her Ph.D. at Arizona State University beginning in 2014.
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