Lila Greco ’15 was named one of the best student presenters at the annual Mathfest conference held Aug. 6-8 in Portland, Ore. The mathematics major from Westlake, Ohio, was one of 14 undergraduate speakers to receive the recognition and a $150 prize from the Pi Mu Epsilon national mathematics honorary society.
“I felt deeply honored to receive the award,” Greco said. “I wasn’t expecting anything going in. I just wanted to give the best presentation I could, so I practiced in front of other Kenyon students, my research advisor, parents and on my own. It was a lot like being an actor learning lines — I wrote a script and worked my way through it until I could speak freely without it.”
The title of her presentation was “Brownian Motion in a Complex Plane,” research covering the mathematical model used to describe the random movement of molecules. Brownian motion has a variety of real-world applications, ranging from stock market fluctuations to the motion of perfume particles through the air.
“I was not at all surprised that Lila won an award for her work,” said Marie Snipes, assistant professor of mathematics and Greco’s faculty mentor. “She is an exceptionally strong student, a creative and meticulous researcher, and an articulate presenter. It was a real pleasure to work with her on this project.”
Greco, who is applying to graduate schools and wants to teach college math, credited her liberal arts background with giving her an edge in the competition. “The judges were looking for students who were able to communicate their results to a wide audience,” she said. “I have my professors to thank for this award because their classes gave me so much practice speaking, writing and communicating; they’re not just teaching math.”
Mathfest is a joint meeting of the Mathematical Association of America and Pi Mu Epsilon. Greco was among five Kenyon student presenters. The others were Nicholas Connolly ’15, Samuel Justice ’15, Robin Belton ’16 and Zach Weiner ’16.