Senior Jackie Lang Wins Coveted Churchill Scholarship

Posted March 11th, 2009 at 10:59 am.

langMathematics major Jackie Lang ’09 is one of just 14 American students who have been chosen to spend next year at the University of Cambridge as Churchill Scholars.

The scholarships, awarded annually by the Winston Churchill Foundation, fund tuition and fees as well as living and travel expenses. Selection criteria include exceptional academic achievement; a capacity to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the sciences, engineering, or mathematics by pursuing original, creative work at an advanced level; and outstanding personal qualities.

Lang, who plans to graduate from Bryn Mawr this May with both A.B. and M.A. degrees through the College’s Combined A.B./M.A. Program, intends to enter a Ph.D. program in mathematics after her year in Cambridge, where she will earn a Certificate of Advanced Study in Mathematics.

According to Professor of Mathematics Helen Grundman, who is Lang’s thesis adviser, the Longmont, Colo., native has already started down the path of advancing knowledge in mathematics. Last summer, a National Science Foundation research internship at Williams College led to “a very impressive result that she and her collaborators will be publishing in a mathematics research journal,” Grundman reports.

Lang arrived at Bryn Mawr already committed to a career as a mathematician. In fact, she says that she chose Bryn Mawr because she had read that women who attend women’s colleges “are statistically more likely to earn Ph.D.s in math or science … and Bryn Mawr has a very good record of supporting women in math.”

As far as Lang is concerned, the numbers don’t lie: “The math department here is very encouraging and supportive. They really make you believe that you can do it.”

Lang certainly justifies that confidence, Grundman confirms, saying, “Jackie is a brilliant student, intensely focused and dedicated, yet friendly, thoughtful, and fun. Her assignments, oral presentations, and tests demonstrate both her firm understanding of the course material and her well-developed skills at mathematical problem-solving.”

As her final semester winds down, Lang is deeply immersed in a thesis dealing with algebraic number theory, a field she hopes to pursue further in her postgraduate study. “As an independent researcher under my direction,” Grundman says, “Jackie is amazingly self-motivated and driven. Further, she has an excellent sense of how to read and come to understand current research-level mathematics.”

Lang doesn’t spend all of her time hitting the books. A violist, she has played with the Haverford-Bryn Mawr Orchestra and a few student chamber-music groups. As the mathematics representative to the SGA Majors’ Council, she has spent a good deal of time arranging department parties and events; she has also served as a student teaching assistant, mentoring less-advanced students in math classes, and as the co-coordinator of the Distressing Math Collective, a Bi-College student group.

During her Churchill year, Lang hopes to do some exploring. “I understand that once you’ve gotten across the Atlantic, it’s pretty easy to travel around Europe.”

There are some clubs at Cambridge that interest Lang as well. “I love spending time outdoors,” she says, “and there are several clubs devoted to outdoor activities. I want to buy a bike and cycle around England.”

Comments are closed.