I grew up in Guilderland, NY, about 20 minutes from RPI. From a young age, I always loved math and knew that it was what I wanted to pursue after high school. I was familiar with RPI from living in the area; I knew it was a great school and that it was just what I was looking for to further my mathematics education. Upon arriving at RPI, I knew I had made the right choice. I loved my classes, not to say they weren’t hard. I was definitely more challenged than I ever was in high school, but it motivated me to work even harder, and it definitely paid off.
In the beginning of my sophomore year, I received an email inviting me to apply to the Accelerated BS/PhD Program. I had known for a while that I didn’t want my study of mathematics to end when I got my bachelor’s degree, but I hadn’t given much thought to where or what I would do for graduate school. Reading the email, I realized that this program was the perfect opportunity. It would give me the chance to get much more involved in mathematics, even starting research as an undergraduate, and I could graduate with my PhD in just seven years!
One of the main reasons I wanted to get involved with research was that it has definite real-world applications. I can’t even count how many times, after inquiring about my major, people would ask me “Why? What do you DO with math? Teach?” For a while, I didn’t really know the answer to this question either. I knew there were many ways to apply math in the real world, I just didn’t know what they were yet.
By being given the opportunity to begin research at a young age, I have answered these questions. I chose to start my research by working with Professor Margaret Cheney in the field of radar imaging. My first summer in the program, I worked with Professor Cheney in the sensors department of the Air Force Research Lab in Rome, NY. I had my first hands-on experience working with real radars and radar data, and started to learn how to manipulate and analyze this data in Matlab.
I graduated with a BS in Applied Mathematics and minors in Music and Economics a year early, in May 2009. I then received my MS, also in Applied Mathematics, in December 2009. I interned at MIT-Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA for three summers and two winters. I have worked in their Intelligence, Test, and Evaluation group and in their Ballistic Missile Defense Systems Integration group. The work I do at the lab directly relates to my radar research at school, and helps me to stay focused on how what I am researching is actually used. I finished my coursework last year and am now focusing solely on my research. I am very grateful for the opportunities the Accelerated BS/PhD Program has presented me with.