Mathematical Sciences Graduate Emily Zhu Receives Judith A. Resnik Award

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May 17, 2019

Emily Zhu is the recipient of the 2019 Judith A. Resnik Award, an award named after the Challenger astronaut and CMU alumna. The award recognizes an exceptional, senior woman graduating with an undergraduate technical course of study who will be pursuing graduate or professional training in a technical field.

Zhu is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Sciences, with a concentration in Discrete Mathematics and Logic, and a Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences. She earned the two degrees concurrently as part of her participation in the department’s Honors Program.

“Emily’s intellect is unsurpassed by other math majors in her cohort. She is incredibly talented mathematically and she has a work ethic to match,” Jason Howell, director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Mathematical Sciences, said.

Zhu’s research is in combinatorics. She completed work described as “cutting edge” by Howell for her honors thesis on multicolor Ramsey numbers for 3-uniform hypergraphs with 3 edges, advised by Department Head and Professor Tom Bohman.

Interest in her thesis topic developed in her first year when she took Bohman’s course in discrete mathematics and continued to grow when she studied at the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics Program after her first year and through her later coursework.

After her sophomore year, Zhu studied at Clemson University as part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, where she worked on research in coding theory and contributed to a paper titled “Multicast Triangular Semilattice Network.”

In addition to research, Zhu wanted to help others develop their skills and increase their appreciation of mathematics. She became a math tutor for other Carnegie Mellon students in her first year. She also volunteered with Western Pennsylvania American Regions Mathematics League (ARML) team to mentor high school students for math competitions. She became a teaching assistant (TA) for her department in 2017 and served as a Head TA for Mathematical Concepts and Proofs.

“At CMU, I worked with a variety of people in math and gained a sense of how to explain things in an effective way,” Zhu said.

While at Carnegie Mellon, Zhu was involved in Math Club and was an organizer for an undergraduate summer math seminar and Carnegie Mellon’s Informatics and Mathematics Competition. She participated in designing and building the Math Club Booth for Spring Carnival three years in a row, winning Best Blitz Booth in 2018.

Zhu is graduating with university and college honors. She will pursue doctoral studies at the University of California, San Diego.

“I will remember CMU’s amazing network of supportive professors, and my collaborative peer group,” Zhu said.

 Awardees receive $1,000 and a certificate of recognition. At the recommendation of the committee, other nominees may also receive Honorable Mention finalist certificates. In 2019, an honorable mention was awarded to the chemistry department’s Sarah Simon.