Q & A with Rebecca Ryan
Program: Computational mathematics
Hometown: Corner Brook, NL
Can you tell me about some of your accomplishments, including your attendance at the East Coast Combinatorics Conference and your supervisory role with the WISE program?
Last summer I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Rebecca Milley and do some research on combinatorial game theory. During my work, I supervised a WISE student. Together we worked through some problems and even discovered a few neat facts about a game called Domineering, which was cool. In supervising her, I basically had to fill in some gaps of knowledge. As a high school student, it is hard to suddenly go straight into thinking about abstract math with no experience and it also hard to learn how to make valid proofs in math. It was an amazing work term in which I discovered I really loved doing research.
I also had the chance to attend the East Coast Combinatorics Conference at Mount Saint Vincent University. This was also amazing. I listened to some talks about people's research in the broad area of combinatorics (which is also my area of interest). Here, I was exposed to many brand new ideas and problems that I had no idea existed. Once that particularly grabbed my interest was that of the Random graph.
Also with the help of several other math students we reinstated Grenfell's math society. Some of the highlights of our events include: dressing up as the digits of Pi (in which we had 19 people involved) and organizing a Pi day event as a fundraiser for the local women's centre. It was nice to see a sense of community in a newer program.
Your professors say your research on mathematical logic and model theory was extraordinary, considering how much material you absorbed in two semesters.
Model theory is an interesting branch of mathematics. It is also very abstract as it deals a lot with studying infinite structures. It is very interesting to see how well you can describe something in mathematics without actually using any numbers. Working with Dr. Yevgeniy Vasilyev was an amazing experience and it really challenged my mind. With his help, I was able to further my research into the Random graph. I was always very driven to understand things so generally if I ever got stuck I would ask for some help, understand it, then use that information to understand a more complicated idea.
And I hear you're into theatre and music outside of the classroom.
Outside of math, I really enjoy making music. I have been playing piano for nearly 12 years and I teach piano lessons at Gary Bennett Music. I love music because its very relaxing to me. I also love teaching it and seeing younger kids get excited about something. Admittedly I sometimes bring a bit of math into my lessons so that kids can see a connection between math and music. A lot of music is recognizing patterns and counting rhythms. I have also done acting over the past two summers in a few Shakespearean plays.
What are your plans following graduation?
I will be attending Dalhousie University to do a master of science in mathematics.