President’s Medal winner loves math

Kathlyn Elizabeth Violet Dykes is the winner of this year’s President’s Medal. (Susan Hickman Photo)

When President’s Medal winner Kathlyn Elizabeth Violet Dykes began her studies at Carleton in the fall of 2010, she was eager to encounter new challenges and trials in an academic setting.

“Carleton University was the perfect place for this, not only because the personable and friendly nature of the university provide a very comfortable environment,” says the 20-year-old Dykes, who graduates this spring with a Bachelor of Mathematics degree, “but also because the math department in particular is very good, full of interesting and engaging professors.”

While her mother has a mathematics degree, Dykes admits this was not really what influenced her to pursue this field of study. It was a subject in which she excelled, particularly when she hit the algebra books in the higher grades.

At Carleton, she originally started in the double honours mathematics and physics program because she couldn’t decide which subject to major in. But she enjoyed her mathematics courses so much, that she decided, in her second year, to switch over to the combined bachelor of mathematics and master’s of science. The theoretical nature of mathematics has always appealed to Dykes, who admits her past three years of studying the subject “have made me like it more.”

Her first two years of algebra classes under Prof. Yuly Billig fascinated Dykes to the extent that she has decided to pursue her master’s in Billig’s special research interest in Lie algebras.

This summer, she is working on a research project under a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grant, which will give her the background she needs to pursue her master’s studies beginning in September, under Billig’s supervision.

After that, Dykes cannot say much about her career path. “I guess I’ll just see where this takes me,” she shrugs.

About the President’s Medal, Dykes says winning an award was not a priority during her undergraduate years.

“I tried to learn the material as best I could and I tried to get the most out of my classes. But it sure is nice to get recognition for all the hard work I put in over the past few years.”

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Susan Hickman

By Susan Hickman

For nearly four decades, journalist Susan Hickman has written about every imaginable subject for sundry newspapers and magazines in Canada and abroad, as well as for CBC TV and CBC Radio. She has also managed various publications, including academic newspapers and technology magazines, and was recently commissioned to write a guide for foreign missions serving in Canada. Currently, she is working on a couple of personal memoirs.

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