New university medals recognize dichotomy of Math/Stats

Jun 13th, 2014

Kelly Foss

New university medals recognize dichotomy of Math/Stats

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics saw three new convocation awards handed out to students this year.

The Senate Committee on Undergraduate Scholarships, Bursaries and Awards approved new University Medals for Academic Excellence in the areas of pure math, applied math and statistics. Previously, students vied a single top medal for the whole department.

Senate Committee chair Danny Dyer, an associate professor with the Mathematics and Statistics department, recused himself from this particular decision, but says the group regularly receives applications from units who feel their disciplines have evolved since the original list of available medals was created.

“The university medals are essentially meant to represent the best students in the individual disciplines,” he said. “As faculties and schools have evolved to include new majors, the committee has added new medals to recognize that change.

The new medals highlight the diversity of students in the department and the three well-deserving recipients Anthony Payne, Jason LeGrow and Michael Grudich, certainly represent the quality of education they’ve received.

Anthony Payne, the Statistics medal winner, grew up in Pasadena and is this year’s Rhodes Scholar. This fall he will begin a Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Medicine program at Oxford University in the area of diabetes research.

“To me this is a note of reassurance that my hard work has paid off,” he said. “We often get tangled in mountains of work and question why we go through all the trouble, and whether or not it’s really worth the struggle. This is a reminder to keep on track and do things as I have been.”

Jason LeGrow, the pure math medal recipient, is going on to graduate studies at the University of Waterloo, one of the top destinations for math studies in the world. At convocation he also received the Governor General’s Silver Medal, which is awarded to the undergraduate who achieves the highest academic standing upon graduation from Memorial University’s bachelor’s degree program.

“It makes me very happy to be recognized for all the hard work that I put into my studies,” said Mr. LeGrow. “I know that my fellow pure math students are all very talented, so to receive this award is quite an hour.

Michael Grudich, who took home the applied math medal, received multiple offers from top universities in Canada and the United States before choosing CalTech. While there he hopes to continue his research in theoretical astrophysics, working towards solving the tough mathematical problems surrounding the more extreme predictions of Einstein’s theory of gravitation, particularly as they relate to black holes and neutron stars, some of the ‘most bizarre objects in the universe.’

“Getting to appreciate the beauty of both mathematical truth and physical reality is the real reward for what I do,” he said. “However I worked very hard during my time at Memorial and getting recognized for it means a lot to me.”


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