• Daniela Beckelhymer (left) and Sara Boyd (right) at the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity of Computing.
  • Daniela Beckelhymer (left) and Sara Boyd (right) at with Richard Tapia himself (center) while at the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity of Computing.
  • Daniela Beckelhymer presenting her poster at StatFest in Houston.
  • Mercedes Gonzalez (right) and a collaborator presenting at the Joint Math Meetings in Baltimore.

Every year, the Mathematics and Computer Science department recognizes amazing students for their achievements by granting several departmental awards. This year’s award winners are Sara Boyd, recipient of the Grogan Lord Award in Computer Science, Daniela Beckelhymer, recipient of the Ralph Whitmore Award in Mathematics, Mercedes Gonzalez, recipient of the Atkin Memorial Scholarship in Mathematics, and Hannah Freeman, recipient of the Annual Actuarial Award.

The Grogan Lord Award in Computer Science goes to the department’s most outstanding Computer Science student. Sara has distinguished herself as a finalist for the Computer Research Association’s (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award for 2020. Only 23 students nationwide received this honor in 2020. Sara’s recognition is based primarily on research she did with Associate Professor of Computer Science Dr. Barbara Anthony on a variant of the revenue-maximization Dial-A-Ride problem, which deals with how to schedule a series of pick-ups and deliveries efficiently. This research also involved collaboration with individuals at other institutions, and was presented at ATMOS 2019, the Symposium on Algorithmic Approaches for Transportation Modelling, Optimization, and Systems. Further details of the research were published in the Dagstuhl Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs). Sara has also distinguished herself through her work on a King Creativity Project with two other students on controlling a power wheelchair using a glove that detects small hand movements. This flex-controller wheelchair could be used by individuals who are not capable of using a traditional joystick. Sara Boyd has also attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing with the support of competitive travel scholarships, and has worked within the department as a Computer Science tutor for several semesters.

The Ralph Whitmore Award in Mathematics goes to the department’s most outstanding Mathematics student. Daniela is a Computational Math and Psychology double-major who earned this award thanks to her many research experiences both at Southwestern University and elsewhere. Daniela’s began her education at Southwestern as part of the EQUIP program in Summer 2016. Within a year she had her first research experience, in the Summer of 2017 as a SCOPE (Summer Collaborative Opportunities and Experiences) student under the mentorship of Professor of Mathematics Dr. Alison Marr. Their research on the graph structure of Choose Your Own Adventure books was published in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics. She has also participated in an external Research Experience for Undergraduates at Dordt College (which included travelling to Ukraine for data collection on PTSD), and an additional SCOPE experience under Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Carin Perilloux focused on ASMR. However, even when doing research in Psychology, she has brought her work back to the Math community: Her ASMR research was presented at StatFest in 2019 in Houston. Daniela has also presented her Math Capstone research at the Joint Math Meetings in Denver, and has attended several other conferences: The Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, the Institute for Mathematics and Its Applications/Math Alliance Workshop on Career Paths in the Mathematical Sciences, and the Field of Dreams Conference, which introduces potential graduate students to graduate programs in the mathematical sciences. To top it all off, Daniela is also president of the student chapter of the Mathematical Association of America: Southwestern’s local Math Club.

The Atkin Memorial Scholarship goes to the top junior Mathematics student. Mercedes Gonzalez is another outstanding Math major who attended EQUIP before her first year at Southwestern. In the summer of 2018 she participated in an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, which gave her the opportunity to present her research at the Texas Undergraduate Mathematics Conference the following fall. Her great success inside and outside of the classroom led her to serve as a mentor for incoming EQUIP students in the summer of 2019. Most recently, she attended the national Joint Math Meetings in Baltimore to present her REU research on a national scale with the presentation, “Restrictions on HOMFLYPT and Kauffman Polynomials Arising from Local Moves.” 

The Actuarial Award goes to Hannah Freeman, a senior who is double majoring in Mathematics and Financial Economics. Hannah completed her Math capstone in Fall 2019 titled Mouthwestern: Modeling the Spread of Rumors using Graph Theory,” and presented this work at the Texas Undergraduate Mathematics Conference in Tyler, Texas. Importantly, Hannah also took the Actuarial Exam to seek professional status as an actuary, which is a requirement for the scholarship.

These students were recognized for their accomplishments at a ceremony on February 22nd, along with various other high-achieving students from different departments across campus. Congratulations to all of our amazing award winners!