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Rising mathematics student to study in prestigious Princeton summer program

Mar 2, 2020

Flagler College student Lauren LaRue has been selected to participate in the annual Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) at Princeton/Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI) Summer Session. The three-week program is a highly competitive immersive program which emphasizes scholarly interaction between all levels of mathematics students, faculty and researchers. She is the first Flagler College student to be selected for this program.

Headshot of Lauren LaRue

LaRue will attend the residential program from July 5-25. This year’s theme is “Number Theory Informed by Computation.” The Undergraduate Summer School at PCMI is an offshoot Research Experiences for Undergraduates from an initiative that began in the late 1980s at the National Science Foundation Divisions of Mathematical Sciences and Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education.

“It felt really surreal. I never dreamt that I would have an opportunity like this,” said LaRue of her reaction upon learning that she was accepted to the program.

The surprise of acceptance came early to the non-math-major student who described her experience with math as a renewed passion. She started Flagler as a graphic design major but soon realized that she was consumed by her math classes. She enjoyed taking all the math classes offered her, and committed herself this past summer to learn and perfect her proof writing skills. She has since moved away from the art major to devote all of her time to mathematics.

“She devotes as much time as she needs to master it,” said her math professor and mentor Assistant Professor Pin Hung Kao, Ph.D.

Kao offered that while many of his students have the potential to become mathematicians, LaRue exhibited something special in that she strives for deep understanding of concepts, is an indiscriminate learner, and has an exceptional work ethic. She described how much he encouraged her to continue her studies and ultimately to apply for the IAS/PCMI.

“It’s a great honor that Lauren is given this opportunity to study with some of the best mathematicians of our time,” said Kao.

The IAS has housed some of the greatest scholars in the world since its establishment in 1930; the most well-known member being the physicist Albert Einstein. For this summer’s program, rising young mathematicians like LaRue will be able to take part in labs, small groups and daily lectures with a Fields Medalist, a mathematician of the highest level as recognized by the International Mathematical Union.

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