The student spotlight participants can be found below. Want to be featured on our Mathematics Undergraduate Spotlight? Please fill out this Google form questionnaire!

## Lucy Horowitz, Class of 2024

**How did you decide to become a math major?**

I was really into astronomy when I was younger. One of my teachers told me that I should learn as much math as I could if I wanted to become an astronomer. I took his advice and just couldn't stop learning math because I enjoyed it so much!

**Favorite math course(s) and why?**

My favorite courses were the ones I took through the Paris Mathematics program. We got to hear in-depth about really interesting areas of math that wouldn't get much airtime in an average course. Not only that, but we got to do math *in Paris*, exploring the city of light while talking about fun problems!

**Do you have any special story to tell that reflects your experience as a math major? **

In the fall of 2020, when all of our classes were on Zoom, I was in an Honors Analysis study group with some housemates who were also in the class. The last part of a particularly long problem was "take a victory lap." After just barely making the midnight deadline, we all met outside the door to Burton-Judson and raced each other around the block. That class was so incredibly difficult, but we had a ton of fun with it anyway.

**What are your aspirations? **

I want to continue doing math! Right now I'm particularly interested in logic and formal math, and I hope I can find exciting practical and abstract applications for all the things I'm learning.

**What are you excited about doing after graduation? (If you know)**

I'm currently waiting to hear back from graduate schools, but this summer I'm really excited to be spending a few weeks at the Hausdorff Institute working on projects bridging formal and "informal" (natural language) mathematics.

## Jake Wellington, Class of 2024

**How did you decide to become a math major?**

I had two friends in my second year that kept doing honors analysis homework in the house lounge. I got pretty curious and started talking to them about the material, and decided I wanted to learn it for myself. By my third year, I was officially a math major. We still work together all the time!

**Favorite math course(s) and why?**

I really liked Markov Chains with Professor Gwynne. He is a great professor and the course material is really cool. I am also in functional analysis with Professor Souganidis, and it is shaping up to be the best course I have ever taken. The material is crazy cool and I am getting really inspired to study more analysis!

**Do you have any special story to tell that reflects your experience as a math major? **

While there are so many stories I could tell that are deeply meaningful to me (special shoutouts to Professor Gwynne, Professor Eskin, and Abhijit Mudigonda), I think the most precious thing about my time in the math major has been the truly wonderful friends I have made. The constant joy of sharing ideas with them, learning with them, growing with them, and having so, so much fun with them will be near and dear to my heart always. While I know you guys are going to read this and clown me for it: Dante Strollo, Cameron Chang, Rohan Soni, and Ben Scott - I love you all and can't wait to see how far you all go.

**What are your aspirations? **

I think for now I just want to have a bit more fun doing math! I love probability so I definitely want to study more of that, but I think something like PDE or dynamics would be super fun to get into as well. Honestly, I am just a huge fan of analysis and pretty much anything doing that would be fun.

**What are you excited about doing after graduation? (If you know)**

I'm going to graduate school next year (still waiting on a few so I'm not completely sure where yet), I'm really looking forward to it! I'm also going to mentor for the apprentice program over the summer which will be super fun.

## Annie Meishan Chen, Class of 2024

**How did you decide to become a math major?**

I originally came in wanting to do Econ/Philosophy but then I took the 160s and realized math wasn't what I thought it was, (and Econ wasn't what I thought it was), and a couple of really great professors and great friends I met in these classes made me switch over.

**Favorite math course(s) and why?**

The entire analysis IBL sequence, fantastic professor fantastic way to conduct class, this class is optimized for depth of understanding rather than speed and it was also so much fun because the class really got to know each other.

**Do you have any special story to tell that reflects your experience as a math major? **

It took me almost the entirety of Calc 161 to solve problem and write up a proof for it completely on my own, I felt really really dumb the entire quarter basically. Calc 161 made me cry more than any person ever did, but when I figured it out with no help from classmates (or the internet) and it was the most rewarding thing and also helped convince me I had the capacity to do this.

**What are your aspirations? **

Currently going to work at a hedge fund and am also an aspiring author so we are all over the place.

**What are you excited about doing after graduation? (If you know)**

Going to do a lot of painting and reading and traveling before work starts.

## Michael Barz, Class of 2024

**How did you decide to become a math major?**

Nanyue Huairang stated that those who come to Zen do so because it is ``just what is needed." For me, mathematics is just what is needed. I have enjoyed mathematics for a long time; and now, most of my friends are other mathematics students, and the natural thing for us to do is to talk about mathematics. The wonderful student community at Chicago -- especially Chengyang Bao, Aaron Slipper, and Claudia Yau, all of whom have taught me so much -- has kept my interest in mathematics alive for so long. I am so happy for all of my friends who do math; without them, I do not know where I would be today. The professors here have also been greatly encouraging and inspiring, and above all extremely generous with their time, answering all number of my (sometimes ridciulous, confused, or ill-posed) wonderings. In particular, I must thank Sasha Beilinson, Luis Silvestre, Lucia Mocz, and Amie Wilkinson -- and most of all Matt Emerton, who has been an incredible guide and mentor through my time at Chicago. Learning from him has been a true treat, and I am so grateful for everything he has taught me.

**Favorite math course(s) and why?**

To me, the most exciting feature of mathematics is its unity -- when doing math in my life, I have the good fortune of being able to use results from every class I have ever taken. This makes all my courses blur together a bit; it's sometimes hard to recall what results I learned from which class, which makes it a little hard to pick a favorite course. Still, I massively enjoyed Luis Silvestre's MATH 275 (the undergraduate PDE course). I will never forget his exercises about what numerical schemes for solving PDEs do when you give them a PDE without solutions. These exercises still haunt me, because they break so many of my intuitions about causality. In the end it seems I have drifted towards algebra in my interests, but Luis Silvestre's lectures really made me wonder about becoming an analyst! Plus, it gave me an opportunity to turn a lot of abstract results of analysis (which I had learned from Prof. Silvestre in the previous quarter) into tools to solve incredible problems -- it was only in this course, when solving very concrete differential equations, that the true utility of the proposition ``a convex lower semicontinuous function is weakly lower semicontinuous" dawned on me. I think this course was the first time in my life that I learned to really appreciate the importance of concrete examples to ground one's learning of abstract machines. This lesson has served me very well in life.

**Do you have any special story to tell that reflects your experience as a math major? **

A friend once asked me to give her a tour of Eckhart hall (she became curious after noticing how often I would reply ``Eckhart" to her texts asking me where I was). When we entered, I was a little confused about what to say -- to me Eckhart had always been a bit of an unremarkable building. But when walking through, I realized exactly what to tell her. Whenever I can, I love to work at a chalkboard; chalkboards are a bit hard to find on campus, which means I have spent many many afternoons (and nights...) working in an empty classroom in Eckhart. It dawned on me, when walking through Eckhrat and trying to find remarks to make about its various rooms, that I had worked in each of them, and had specific memories about each. I remembered the chalkboard in Eckhart 202 I used to prove that flasque sheaves had no cohomology (and I remember the many failed attempts before I had solved the problem); I remembered the chalkboard in Eckhart 207-A on which I had computed my first integral over Q_p. I also remembered the rooms where I first enter Chicago's number theory student community by joining in the Weil conjecture student learning seminar; I remembered the blackboard in the Barn on which I nervously rehearsed to Claudia what was to be my first talk for this seminar. I remembered the chalkboard on which Chengyang helped me understand a paper of Serre that has been completely incomprehensible to me before her clarifications; and I remembered the chalkboards which Aaron used to help me understand BunG. Most of my time as a math major has been spent at a chalkboard, either by myself or with someone else, attempting to understand some piece of mathematics. Watching someone standing still, holding a piece of chalk, and waiting for an idea to come does not make a good movie, but I feel that the encounters above were some of the most exciting, tense, and dramatic moments of my life.

**What are your aspirations? **

I aspire to be a kind person; to be a creative mathematician; to seek truth in math and life; and to continue having fun discussing math with my friends. Professionally, I hope to become an academic mathematician, so that I can stay in the world I love so much.

**What are you excited about doing after graduation? (If you know)**

In the summer, I will go to Park City to attend a summer school, and I hope to help out at the Chicago REU. Both of these are very exciting to me; I am happy to meet some graduate students from outside of Chicago as I start my own graduate studies, and I am happy to get a chance to give back to the Chicago REU, a program which has given me so much.

## Alex Sheng, Class of 2024

**How did you decide to become a math major?**

The only subject that I am both good at and share a passion for. Easy choice.

**Do you have any special story to tell that reflects your experience as a math major? **

I think math has more uses to make our life better than many people would think. Currently I am modeling a tourism chain in China to suggest better, more environmental-friendly, and more beneficial tourism commerce. This kind of hands-on experience that transforms math into useful tools socially excites me.

**What are your aspirations? **

Probably pure math. But I do not hesitate to apply math to the real world. The reason for pure math is that I think pure math tends to be a lot neater and more elegant than applied ones. It has beautiful beautiful theorems, constructions, and abstractions. But a lot of applied things that I have tried involve dry computations, evaluations of integrals, and long messy equations. My taste is to stop after giving the equation. I don't really care about the ways to solve that equation as long as, for example, that I have showed that it is solvable.

**What are you excited about doing after graduation? (If you know)**

Math PhD would be ideal. Alternatively if I receive great offer from finance companies I will also consider to do a PhD later in my life.

**How did you decide to become a math major?**

I have always enjoyed studying math, but was not sure if I wanted to pursue it in college. I decided to take IBL Calculus my first year and had an incredible professor and TA. It was their support and enthusiasm that inspired me to become a math major. The course material was extremely interesting to me, and I also enjoyed the way in which proof-based math helped me to develop my analytical, problem solving, and reasoning skills.

**Favorite math course(s) and why?**

As mentioned above, I really enjoyed IBL Calculus. I also enjoyed Markov Chains, Martingales, and Brownian Motion. This was the first course in which I worked in depth with random variables, and I was interested in both the theoretical side and practical applications of stochastic processes.

**Do you have any special story to tell that reflects your experience as a math major?**

One of my favorite aspects of my time as a math major is the community I have found through the Society of Women+ in Math (SWiM). I first joined SWiM as a first-year and have been significantly involved throughout my four years at UChicago. SWiM has continually been a welcoming and supportive community for me. Through SWiM’s study breaks, talks with professors, and workshops, I have enjoyed spending time with and learning from other women in the major as well as professors in the department.

**What are your aspirations? **

I plan on attending law school and pursuing a career at the intersection of public policy and law. I realize that, on the surface, law and math are very different. However, through the math major, I have grown my ability to solve complex problems, conduct detailed analysis, and think critically and analytically. I believe that these skills will support me in my future career.

**What are you excited about doing after graduation? (If you know)**

After graduation, I will be joining the law firm of Mintz in New York as a Project Analyst. I look forward to exploring my future in law, continuing to learn, and enjoying New York City!

**How did you decide to become a math major?**

My participation in Ross in high school was one "historical" factor. More concretely, I think of mathematics as the supreme unity of sciences and humanities -- it is scientific for its rigor, and humanistic for the creativity it inspires. I had a preference for clarity, and math is almost the only subject that, albeit hard, one is able to understand concepts "clearly and distinctly," in Descartes's words. Mathematics is the language of nature; it's simply indisputable that no other discipline achieve such high degree of diversity and unity at the same time.

**What are your aspirations? **

I'm going after a math PhD, but let's see what happens after that.

**How did you decide to become a math major?**

I always knew I wanted to do math once I got to college; what solidified this for me was meeting with mathematics professors from different universities and really talking with them about mathematics. They were so enthusiastic about what they were studying that I felt I could learn it as well.

**Favorite math course(s) and why?**

I really enjoyed Galois Theory (MATH 25900) last quarter. I think what was particularly exciting about the subject was how it combined notions we had learned in the previous two quarters of Algebra to study polynomials more deeply than we had before. It really felt like a culmination of previous quarters which I left feeling like I had learned a lot.

**Do you have any special story to tell that reflects your experience as a math major? **

Nothing particular comes to mind. Overall, I would say the striking thing is how much you learn without realizing it. There are conversations I've had and lectures I've been to which I was able to follow, but which I looked back on amazed that I understood as much as I did. Your progress is gradual enough that you don't realize it if you're too caught up in the moment—stuck on a particular problem or concept you don't understand. When you look back, you then realize you've come a long way.

**What are your aspirations? **

I'm hoping to go into graduate studies in mathematics or physics. There's so much in mathematics that I have yet to learn, and I want to make the most of my opportunities to do so.

**What are you excited about doing after graduation? (If you know)**

I don't know—there are too many possibilities for me to choose from!

### Emanuel Green, Class of 2022

**How did you decide to become a math major?**

I came into UChicago as a physics major and just took MATH 15300 and planned to be done. I had space in my schedule and decided to take MATH 15910 just for fun. I took that class with Marco Mendez-Guaraco and it was his passion and enthusiasm for math that made me really start to become interested. I found the course fascinating and decided to take MATH 20250 the next quarter since Marco was teaching it. Once again, he amazed me with the things he taught us. It is because Marco opened my eyes to the beautiful world of math that I am now a physics and math double major.

**Favorite math course(s) and why?**

MATH 15910. As previously stated, this was the first class that really made me interested in math. I was so amazed by my introduction to proofs and the power of math. A strong second would be MATH 25500. Ring theory was really fun.

**Do you have any special story to tell that reflects your experience as a math major? **

Outside of my experiences with Marco, I would say that being a math major has allowed me to really help other people learn and appreciate math. I have tutored my younger sister in math as well as some friends at other universities. I have had a lot of fun showing how interesting and counter-intuitive math can be.

**What are your aspirations? **

My main passion right now is physics, specifically the world of nanoscale and quantum engineering. I hope to learn more about the way materials work and how we can control them at the microscopic level. I think topological materials are especially interesting and highlight a really cool intersection of math and physics.

**What are you excited about doing after graduation? (If you know)**

I will most likely be attending graduate school for physics. After that I will simply explore the opportunities available to me.

### Derek Zhu, Class of 2021

**How did you decide to become a math major?**

I decided to become a math major early in high school, when I picked up a book about obscure Trigonometric identities and thought it was super cool. Some of the identities were stunningly simple yet seemed impossible, and I would spend hours trying to come up with my own. Math is about discovering new beautiful ideas, like a quantitative form of art, and I soon figured out that other fields in math beyond trig were even more beautiful (and useful).

**Favorite math course(s) and why?**

I like all of them, but CMSC 27530 (Graph Theory) is by far my most favorite. I signed up for the class because I am fascinated by the simplicity and elegance of these important data structures that shape our world. As someone who knew some graph theory from high school, I'm still learning exponentially more concepts every class and the problems on the psets are super fun to solve. Professor Laszlo Babai is not only a combinatorial genius but also a fantastic teacher, and his style makes a difficult topic such as Graph Theory fun and easy to learn.

**Do you have any special story to tell that reflects your experience as a math major? **

I don't have any special stories about classes because they were all online, but the people in the math department are very special. Coming into UChicago as a freshman, I didn't know a lot of things, and when I reached out to upperclassmen they were very willing to help me navigate through math classes and the school itself. They are super nice and a testament to the department's philosophy of a curious and collaborative community.

**What are your aspirations? **

I want to work in an applied field that is very quantitative, such as Computational Biology, Quantum Computation, or Algorithmic Game Theory. These fields are CS-heavy by nature, but require a lot of rigorous mathematical thinking and problem solving. Hopefully I can become a Professor or be at the forefront in one of these industries.

**What are you excited about doing after graduation? (If you know)**

I'm a freshman, so I don't know. I'm excited for what will happen, and perhaps my aspirations will be very different from what they are now.

Zihao Li, Class of 2021

**How did you decide to become a math major?**

cannot imagine a life without math

**Favorite math course(s) and why?**

MATH 25700 by Calegari, the only class that keeps me focused

**What are your aspirations? **

Probability/Statistics/Optimization/Financial Math

**What are you excited about doing after graduation? (If you know)**

Princeton ORFE PhD