Thursday, June 4, 2009

UCLA Math Special Awards

It is that time of year again, graduation time and it’s also the time when academic departments honor their best and brightest. Today I had a wonderful time attending the UCLA Mathematics Department special awards ceremony. The event was held in the Math Sciences building (see attached picture) and was very well attended by faculty, staff, graduate students, a few undergrads, and me. Even though I’m always the odd man out at these gatherings, they always make me feel very welcome, and I never feel out of place because the math department is my home.

A number of well deserved awards were handed out including the Sorgenfrey Distinguished Teaching Awards to Michael Hitrik, Susie Hakansson, and Fred Park, as well as a number of teaching assistants. The Basil Gordon Prize was given to Zhi Hong Chen for excellence in the Putnam Mathematical competition. Recognition was also given to several grad students for the Beckenbach Dissertation Year Fellowship Award. There was even a new Lockheed Martin award given for outstanding undergrad research in applied mathematics to Sheida Rahmani.

The final award was for the Horn-Moez Prize for excellence in first-year graduate studies. I have a vested interest in this award because I chose to lend support for this prize by helping it achieve endowment status last year. This year’s winner is Feng Guan who passed all his qualifying exams while holding down a four course load each quarter, not an easy feat!
It was heartening to see so many accomplished young people being recognized for their achievements. Even department superstar, Fields Medalist Terry Tao was in attendance to offer congratulations.

Mathematics has become so important in my life that staying in close proximity to a world-class math department is my necessity. For everyone reading this, I’d recommend that you reach out to your local college or university and get acquainted with faculty and students involved in departments of your chosen scientific fields. You’d be surprised how open and welcoming academics can be when you express a sincere appreciation and enthusiasm for their work. Has anyone else has had a similar experience? Please leave a comment here or contact me directly.


  1. Hi! I reached out to the univ. in town, UC santa cruz. I like astronomy and went to a few lectures there. You'r right, the professors and grad students welcomed me.

  2. Hi groupie! Yes, I befriended the microbio department at Colorado St. Univ. I didn't attend the school, but I live nearby and go there often. Youre right, they are very friendingly to me


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