web zack chromanUS student Zack C. was recently accepted into a yearlong math research program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he will be studying algebraic geometry with some combinatorial geometry involved.

“It seemed like something that was built for me,” the tenth grader said. “It works well because this program in particular was a way of applying high-level math.”

High school students accepted into the Program for Research in Mathematics, Engineering and Science (PRIMES-USA) work on original research projects in mathematics provided by MIT faculty, according to the program’s website. The students are mentored by MIT graduate students or by local mentors who are chosen by the organization.

The program began five years ago and accepts a small number of students each year. According to the website, about half of PRIMES alumni end up attending MIT.

“This is an unbelievable honor both for Zack and the school,” Assistant Head of Upper School Mike Peller said. “This is one of the many opportunities in which our students are able to have a no-glass-ceiling approach to learning and it’s exciting for Zack to be pushed and challenged in this truly unique way.”

Students provide a preference of topics they’re interested in and are assigned a large amount of background reading.  They are expected to spend 10 hours a week working on the project.

“I’m trying to solve something in some creative way,” Zack said. “I’m still researching what projects have been done and what processes have been used to solve something.”

In May, Zack will travel to MIT to present his preliminary findings to other PRIME students and some MIT students, he said. He will spend about a year working on the project.

“One of my goals is to contribute in some way to mathematical research,” he said. “It’s my first experience doing real research and trying to solve a problem.”

He added this will be a good way to decide whether he enjoys math research and wants to pursue the subject in college and earn his doctorate.

“A large part of what mathematicians do is research,” Zack said. “If that’s something I really enjoy, it might be something I want to do.

“I’m really happy about having that opportunity to start now,” he added. “Most college students don’t get to do research until grad school.”


February 15, 2016

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