When Carolyn Rhodes Koslow first came to OSU as a student, she was majoring in microbiology, not mathematics. She took Dr. Jeanne Agnew’s honors class in calculus and analytic geometry in her first semester. Rather than enrolling in the second semester, Koslow began a required organic chemistry class instead. A few weeks into the semester, she realized she missed doing math and went back to take the second semester of Dr. Agnew’s course. Koslow remembered, “As I was graduating, she reminded me of our conversation that day. Turns out it had been as notable for her as it had been for me. She was a wonderful teacher, and her career in mathematics was very inspiring to me.”
After graduating from OSU, Koslow went to graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was a teaching assistant while earning her master’s degree. Like so many students, she cites the influence of Dr. John Jobe. “His dedication to teaching and to his students made a lasting mark,” Koslow reflected. “He instilled the value of good teaching, and his experience and advice were invaluable. I had never thought that I could be a teacher myself, but it turns out that teaching has been one of the largest and most enjoyable parts of my career.”
Carolyn and her husband John have pledged generously to undergraduate department scholarships and the department discretionary fund in their estate. But they wanted to do more and to be able to see some of the results that contributions to the department would generate. Working with former Department Head Bus Jaco and Craig Jackson of the OSU Foundation, the Koslows established the Koslow Undergraduate Math Research Experience Scholarship. The scholarship allows undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing mathematical research to apply for funding to carry out a project with a faculty mentor. The department selects the winner and provides some additional funding to the faculty mentor for costs and travel associated with the research. Students applying for the Koslow Scholarship have a wide variety of ideas for projects. Among those funded, the topics include algebraic combinatorics, research in undergraduate mathematics education, math and music, and Galois theory.
“I cannot begin to say how happy my husband and I are about the scholarship,” Koslow said. “We are thrilled that our scholarship is firmly established in the department. I am blown away by the level of research that our scholarship students have attained. Their mentoring professors send me emails throughout the year and give me progress reports. I love to hear all the details.”
Nikole Heon, the 2018-2019 Koslow Scholar, who worked with Dr. Jay Schweig, believes the project was a crucial part of her undergraduate activities at OSU. “Professors knew that I receivedthe scholarship, so they would ask me about my project, which was a unique experience since I had the opportunity to share my work beyond just the professors involved with the project,” she said. “It also gave me some insight on what a real research project looks like, which helped persuade me to go to graduate school and hopefully pursue more projects in the future.” Heon begins the math graduate program at OSU in Fall 2019.
The 2019-2020 recipient of the Koslow Scholarship is Chapman Howard, who is majoring in Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering. Howard began work with Dr. Anand Patel in the 2018-2019 school year, learning the fundamentals of Galois theory and writing a senior honors thesis (as a junior). This year, Howard will work with Patel to study some special cases of big problems in Galois theory, such as the inverse Galois problem.
“The group of Koslow scholars is absolutely remarkable,” Department Head Chris Francisco commented. “They are an elite group of math majors who are notable not only for their mathematical abilities but also their diverse interests and abilities in multiple areas. We are very grateful to the Koslows for their support, which allows our students to have these outstanding research experiences and serves as a great recruiting tool for us. There are very few undergraduate research scholarships across the country specifically for math, and it really makes OSU stand out.”
Koslow Undergraduate Math Research Experience Scholarship Recipients
2016-2017: Timothy Alland (currently a graduate student in Mathematics at Stony Brook); worked with Dr. Edward Richmond
2017-2018: Field Watts (currently a graduate student in Chemistry Education at the University of Michigan); worked with Dr. Lisa Mantini
2018-2019: Nikole Heon (currently a graduate student in Mathematics at OSU); worked with Dr. Jay Schweig
2019-2020: Chapman Howard; working with Dr. Anand Patel