May 5, 2015

Student Award Winners Announced at Annual Ceremony

Yuanzhen Shao and Gieri Simonett

Two graduate students and one undergraduate were recognized recently at the Department of Mathematics annual student awards ceremony.

This year’s graduate honors went to Yuanzhen Shao for outstanding research and to Michael Northington for excellence in teaching. Mathematics senior Paul Ponmattam was recognized for undergraduate achievement.

The Bjarni Jónsson Prize for Research was awarded to Yuanzhen Shao, whose research interests are in partial differential equations.

According to his advisor, Professor Gieri Simonett, Shao’s research contributions have been in the study of geometric evolution equations on uniformly regular and singular Riemannian manifolds, and in the regularity of free boundary problems. The approach he has been using is based on the theory of maximal regularity.

Shao has published three papers and has four papers currently under review. He has presented his research at 15 conferences and academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

“Yuanzhen is among the most promising young researchers that I have interacted with during my whole career,” said Simonett. “He is technically very strong, learns and absorbs material at warp speed, is ambitious, creative, and incredibly hard-working. Most importantly, he is very independent.”

Shao will receive his Ph.D. in May 2015. He has accepted a postdoc position at Purdue University starting in the fall.

Michael Northington and Doug Hardin

The 2015 B.F. Bryant Prize for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Michael Northington. In announcing the award, Associate Director of Graduate Studies Doug Hardin cited Northington’s outstanding ratings on student evaluations. Several students remarked on his ability to explain concepts clearly. They also commented that his materials were always well organized and that it was clear that he spent considerable time in preparing them carefully.

Northington is a fourth-year graduate student and is expected to receive his Ph.D. in May 2016.

Paul Ponmattam received the Richard J. Larsen Award for Achievement in Undergraduate Mathematics. The Larsen Award is given each spring to the senior math major judged by the faculty to have excelled in all aspects of undergraduate mathematics.

Paul Ponmattam and John Rafter

Director of Undergraduate Studies John Rafter noted that Ponmattam has taken 18 courses beyond the required core mathematics courses, 17 of which were graduate courses. Ponmattam has participated in three Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs. In one of them, Paul proved several results relating to the L2-norm and the operator norm on group algebras. He has also attended the UCLA Logic Summer School.
In addition to the Larsen Award, Ponmattam is also the recipient of the Waldemar Trjitzinsky Memorial Award and the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. At the time of this posting, he had not made a decision among several graduate study options.

The Department of Mathematics is proud to honor these excellent students.