SHU Student Receives National Science Foundation Grant

News Story: May 23, 2007

Junior Sarah Novotny to study graph theory at Rochester Institute of Technology

Sarah Novotny, a mathematics major at Sacred Heart University, has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to participate in a study this summer at the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology.

I'm thrilled to be going, said Novotny, a junior from Ridge, N.Y. I was actually really surprised. I applied to four different programs and got into three of them, and I'm really grateful to be going to even one of these.

According to its website, each year the NSF awards Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) grants to support student participation in studies in any of the areas of research funded by the foundation.

I'll be working closely with advisors and other students to work on a project in graph theory, said Novotny, who plans to eventually earn a doctorate in mathematics. This is going to tell me whether this is really what I want to do with my life or not. It's kind of like getting a preview of my career.

This is a great opportunity for her to expand her knowledge and learn about various graduate programs in graph theory, which will help her make a more informed choice about where she wants to study on the graduate level, said Math Professor Hema Gopalakrishnan.

Novotny said she is especially interested in studying graph theory because it is a relatively young branch of math. Novotny's selection for the NSF grant positions her on the edge of a new frontier. It's only been around since the late 1920s so there is a lot of material to learn. The people going into that field now are the pioneers for it. We're the people that are going to find out the big things about graph theory, Novotny said.

That's why I chose it. It's very interesting. Graph theory studies all the properties of graphs, anything that you want to know about a graph. A graph can be anything that's used to plot anything from the more tangible road map to the more abstract mathematical equation. It's going to have a large impact on daily life, she said.

Students from all over the country will work together on the graph theory project. Each will receive a stipend to attend the eight-week session and to cover travel expenses to post-session conferences to present the research results.

Rose Marie Kinik, chairman of the Math Department, said this is the first time, to her recollection, that any Sacred Heart math student has received an NSF grant, and that it went to a female student is impressive. Sarah is very industrious, intelligent, even brilliant. She deserves all the praise that we can give her.