Rochester’s second straight Churchill Scholar focuses on mathematics as a way to contribute to many fields.
By David Andreatta
“Galileo said that math is the language of the universe,” says Andrew Niles ’08. “That’s basically how I look at it. I just want to make some contribution to it. You have no idea what fields you may be helping in the long run, because mathematics is everywhere.”
Niles’s study of mathematics will soon have a new home: the University of Cambridge. That’s because Niles, an honors mathematics major, has been named a 2008 Churchill Scholar and will begin his studies at Cambridge in the fall.
The scholarships, named in honor of Britain’s former prime minister Winston Churchill, are offered to just 12 outstanding students nationally each year. They enable recipients to pursue graduate work in engineering, mathematics, and the physical and natural sciences.
Niles, who will pursue a certificate of advanced study in mathematics, is the second Rochester student in two years—and the fifth since 1996—to be named a Churchill Scholar. Last spring, Robert Penna ’07, a math major from Eden, N.Y., was awarded a Churchill.
A native of Concord, N. H., Niles is no stranger to academic achievement. He was named a Goldwater Scholar last year, is on track to graduate in four years with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics, and won the Stoddard Prize, awarded each year to the University’s best sophomore math student.
He plans to earn his doctoral degree in mathematics when he returns from studying abroad.
Niles coauthored two papers as a result of his participation in the National Science Foundation’s highly selective Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, one of which was pending publication this spring in a professionally refereed journal.
One of his research projects, conducted on a more than 350-year-old computational algebra problem during the summer of 2006, led to Niles presenting his findings in Austria at the Effective Methods in Algebraic Geometry conference, known as MEGA 2007.
He was the only student presenter at the event, which is considered the premier international conference in the field of algebraic geometry.
While Niles excels in the field of mathematics, it’s far from his only interest. He is the coeditor-in-chief of the University’s Journal of Undergraduate Research, a cellist in the University’s Chamber Orchestra, a past winner of the University’s concerto piano competition, and an accompanist for the Men’s Glee Club. He has studied Arabic, German, Latin, and Russian, and is also pursuing an economics minor.
“Andrew has a real thirst for knowledge and a natural ability to integrate ideas from diverse areas of study,” says Naomi Jochnowitz, an associate professor of mathematics. “He’s everything one would want in a student.”
David Andreatta writes about student life for University Communications.