W&L’s Nevin Etter ’23 Receives American Mathematical Society Award Etter plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in mathematics.
Washington and Lee’s Nevin Etter ’23 is one of 10 students nationwide to have received the American Mathematical Society’s (AMS) 2022 Waldemar J. Trjitzinsky Memorial Award. Etter, a mathematics and economics major from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was nominated for the award by the W&L Department of Mathematics.
This competitive prize is one of the AMS undergraduate opportunity awards, which are designed to help students who have declared a major in mathematics at a college or university belonging to the AMS, to pursue a career in mathematics.
After graduation, Etter plans to attend graduate school to further his mathematics education and ultimately pursue a career in the field, a decision that has been influenced by his participation in research programs and the mentorship he has found at W&L. Cory Colbert, assistant professor of mathematics, sparked Etter’s initial interest in math with his Bridges to Advanced Mathematics course. Colbert also encouraged Etter to apply for the Pomona Research in Mathematics Experience (PRiME), which he attended in 2020 and 2021.
PRiME is a summer undergraduate research program in mathematics led by the Department of Mathematics at Pomona College. The residential program consists of 15 undergraduates, five graduate students and five faculty members who conduct collaborative research and participate in mentoring and professional development.
PRiME specifically focuses on conducting research in algebraic geometry and number theory, a field that is among the most distinguished in the mathematical sciences but notoriously lacks minority representation. According to a report from AMS on new 2017-2018 doctorate recipients, only 25% of US citizens who earned a doctorate in algebra and number theory belonged to underrepresented demographics. PRiME is expressly dedicated to diversifying the field of algebraic geometry and number theory and provides valuable opportunities for research, networking, community building and professional development to its residents.
“PRiME has had a strong influence on my decision to pursue a career in a mathematics-related field and to attend graduate school,” Etter said. “Before participating in PRiME, I was unsure what field of study I wanted to major in. After the first summer, I decided that I wanted to major and continue my study in math.”
During his 2020 residency at PRiME, Etter worked with Edray Goins, professor of mathematics and statistics at Pomona College, to relaunch the “Mathematicians of the African Diaspora” database, updating and creating new biographies for Black mathematicians. In 2021, under the instruction of Alex Barrios, assistant professor of mathematics at the University of St. Thomas, he conducted research on rational elliptic curves with non-trivial isogeny. His research group presented their work at Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Mathfest 2021 and received the MAA Outstanding Student Paper Session Presentation award.
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