CSU math doctoral student convenes with laureates in Heidelberg, Germany

A Colorado State University student was accepted not only to attend the second annual Heidelberg Laureate Forum, which was held Sept. 21-26 in Heidelberg, Germany, but also was among only 20 students from the U.S. selected as part of the American delegation of attending students. The forum focused on mathematics and computer science.

View of Heidelberg from the closing ceremony dinner at Heidelberg Castle. Photo courtesy of Tegan Emerson.
View of Heidelberg from the closing ceremony dinner at Heidelberg Castle. Photo courtesy of Tegan Emerson.

The Oak Ridge Associated Universities and the National Science Foundation sponsored the group of students and postdoctoral researchers who represented the first American delegation to attend the forum in Heidelberg.

Tegan Emerson is a math Ph.D student at Colorado State University. After earning her master’s in mathematics at CSU and her undergraduate math degree from Oregon State University, she is now focusing on research under the guidance of CSU mathematics Professors Michael Kirby and Chris Peterson.

“My research falls under the umbrella of geometric and topological data analysis,” Emerson said. ”We are interested in understanding the ambient space for high-dimensional data as well as the structure of the data within that space.”

The forum attracted approximately 2,000 applicants from across the world. The top 100 young mathematicians and 100 young computer scientists were selected to attend. Approximately 200 students and early-career researchers from around the world attended the weeklong meeting. Formal lectures took place in the morning, and the remainder of the day was set aside for students and researchers to meet informally with the laureates, as well as with their peers from around the world.

Emerson at the forum with Sir Michael Francis Atiyah. Photo courtesy of Tegan Emerson.
Emerson at the forum with Sir Michael Francis Atiyah. Photo courtesy of Tegan Emerson.

“I was most looking forward to having one-on-one conversations with a couple of the laureates,” said Emerson. “Dining in a castle next to Sir Michael Francis Atiyah, a winner of both the Fields Medal and the Abel Prize, will stand out in my memory. He gave the opening talk for the forum about the beauty in mathematics, which was incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking.”

In addition to the laureates, the forum gave Emerson an opportunity to develop connections with other promising young researchers from across the world, relationships that she plans to maintain.

Building on the successful model of the annual Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates, the annual Heidelberg Laureate Forum brings together students and early-career researchers with winners of the Abel Prize and Fields Medal in mathematics as well as the Turing Award and Nevanlinna Prize in computer science. The HLF is the result of a joint initiative of the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies and the Klaus Tschira Stiftung.

For more information regarding the Second Annual Heidelberg Laureates Forum, visit the ORAU Heidelberg Laureate Forum website.

About the sponsors

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).