Senior Captures First-Ever Campus Math Prize

Senior Captures First-Ever Campus Math Prize

SeniorPaul Tranquilli is looking forward to a really good dinner out, all thanks to a new award created for math students this year, and made possible by a generous donationfrom Dan and Jan Mendenhall.

Led by professor Francois Blanchette, members of the UC Merced faculty devised the UC Merced Applied MathematicsPrize to recognize the achievements of the most outstanding undergraduate math student on campus.

The first UC Merced Applied Mathematics Prize was awarded to Tranquilli today as part of the Math Society's Pi Day festivities. He was recognized with a certificate, a check and the third and final promise listed on the flier seeking applicants: "Eternal fame." His name will go down in history as the first recipient of a prize that could stand to be coveted by generations of math students well into the future.

 "Eternal fame sounded great," Tranquilli admitted

Meanwhile, he has been busy filling out applications to graduate schools, including UC Merced, and focusing his energy on research that he and School of Natural Sciencesprofessor Mayya Tokmanhave been working on. The two have been studying heat transfer in a rocket stove using biofuels.

"We're actually doing the numerics for a company in India," Tranquilli said. "It's been pretty fun. I'm learning a lot and I have had to learn from articles instead of from a class. That's a new experience."

Tranquilli qualified for the prize by earning the highest GPA in the math program, and consistently doing so in upper division and math courses. He is an applied mathematics major with an emphasis in Engineering Mechanics. For the first few years of his career as a student at the university, Tranquilli balanced an intense workload with tutoring pre-calculus, calculus I and calculus II.

Originally from the San Diego area, Tranquilli found his way to UC Merced by an indirect route. He had been accepted at a private engineering school in New Jersey, and decided to check out this campus while still considering his options. While here, he realized UC Merced had the benefits that had drawn him to the other school in the first place, including a small size and excellent faculty. But in the end, it was the math that made up his mind for him; like so many others, he realized he could get that private school education at public school prices.

Those numbers haven't let him down. "I have really enjoyed the school and the campus" he said, "and the professors are really awesome." With the coveted Applied Mathematics Prize under his belt - and the $250 that comes with it, Tranquilli looks forward to taking his experience at UC Merced forward through grad school and on to a career in the study of computational science and modeling simulations.

And wherever he ends up, his name will always be at the top of the list of winners.

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