In 1990, the Executive Committee of the AWM established the annual Alice T. Schafer Prize for Excellence in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Woman. The prize is named for Alice T. Schafer (1915–2009), one of the founders of AWM and its second president, who contributed greatly to women in mathematics throughout her career.

Citation for Naomi Sweeting, AWM 2019 Schafer Prize Winner
Naomi Sweeting is a senior mathematics and history major at the University of Chicago.  At Chicago, she has excelled in both difficult coursework as well as independent research projects.  Her mentors at Chicago describe her as a “truly exceptional student, with a promising future ahead of her.”  She has already been the recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and a First Prize the International Mathematics Competition. 

Last summer, Sweeting participated in an REU at Emory University, where she conducted research with other undergraduates in number theory resulting in three excellent publications.  On these projects she quickly emerged amongst her peers as an exceptionally gifted mathematician.  One of her mentors describes being dazzled by her “depth, vision and sheer computational skill,” and believes that one day she “will emerge as a world leading mathematician.”

Citation for Danielle Wang, AWM 2019 Schafer Prize Runner-Up

Danielle Wang is a senior math major at MIT.  She has excelled in many demanding classes, written four impressive papers and has a strong record both as a participant in math competitions and helping support the next generation of students. Faculty members who have worked with her are enthusiastic about her potential, stating “I believe she will have an excellent career as a research mathematician and bring added prestige to the (Schafer) prize.” Faculty who have taught graduate classes Danielle has taken describe her comfort with complicated and abstract ideas and the clarity of her solutions.  They describe her as combining “world-class problem-solving skills with determination and effort.” Danielle has also been very successful on the Putnam exam including winning the Elizabeth William Lowell Putnam Prize for her performance on the Putnam Exam in 2015. She has also been a teaching assistant at the Math Olympiad Summer Program.

Danielle has participated in the REUs at Emory University and the University of Minnesota at Duluth.   Her mentors in both programs describe her results with great enthusiasm, noting her “work is at the level of an advanced PhD student at a top school.”  In some of her papers, Danielle has resolved conjectures in the literature and identified new conjectures that are likely to draw attention on their own. In other papers, she has successfully mastered and applied technically demanding new approaches. Reflecting this breath of skills, faculty who have worked with her describe her as having “the tools to become a star mathematician.”

Citation for Nitya Mani, AWM 2019 Schafer Prize Honorable Mention

Nitya Mani is a senior at Stanford University studying mathematics and computer science.  While at Stanford, Nitya has been the recipient of the Barry Goldwater scholarship, Karl Menger prize from the AMS, and various prizes for her performance on the Putnam exam, Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and outstanding talks and poster presentations. 

 Nitya participated in an REU at Emory University in the summer of 2016. Her work there resulted in two publications on infinite product expansions of modular forms, and shifted convolution L-functions for elliptic curves.  Her mentor describes her as an “unusually deep” thinker with “unbounded energy and enthusiasm.”  Nitya has also performed research with mentors in the Bay Area and at Stanford, resulting in several other publications in number theory and combinatorics.  Nitya is also engaged in numerous teaching, outreach and leadership activities.  One mentor describes her as “on the path to becoming a great researcher and leader in mathematics” and an “extraordinary young mathematician.”

Citation for Lisa Yang, AWM 2019 Schafer Prize Honorable Mention

Lisa Yang is a junior math major at MIT. Lisa has impressive research experience: she has been an intern at Microsoft Research New England, Google and Reservoir Labs, as well as participating in the REU at the University of Minnesota.  Through these varied research experiences, she has written six papers. She has presented posters about two of these papers at the Joint Math Meetings, where both received Outstanding Poster prizes at the MAA Student Poster Session. Her mentors are impressed with her abilities and potential, describing her as “capable of the kind of research, deep and elegant, that top mathematician aspire to.”

In addition to her abilities and potential, Lisa’s mentors appreciate her enthusiasm and commitment to math.  She has a remarkable ability to learn new math, with her mentors stating, “Lisa’s ability to dive into this new complex research area, and the depth of her understanding, her conceptual ideas, and technical ability, is beyond belief!” They are particularly impressed by her engagement and skills integrating her ability and talents with others, noting “working with or talking to Lisa, you can see that she really cares about what she is doing and learning and what the other person is saying. She has that “spark” to learn and to deeply and completely understand what one is discussing with her or what she is working on.”

Citation for Nina Zubrilina, AWM 2019 Schafer Prize Honorable Mention

Nina Zubrilina is a senior mathematics major at Stanford University and is the recipient of a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.  She has achieved remarkable research success as an undergraduate, having 6 solo-authored papers written or in preparation.  Faculty describe Zubrilina as “in the league of [their] best graduate students, with ”a high level of intellectual talent and internal drive,” and being “a force for good.” In 2016 and 2017, she performed research at the University of Minnesota, Duluth REU, resulting in three papers in analytic number theory and graph theory.  She spent last summer at an internship at Microsoft Research New England studying linear programming bounds for the sphere packing problem, where her mentors said “she accomplished things [we] didn’t realize were on the horizon.”  She is currently working on a project on phylogenetic trees whose “upside seems potentially unbounded,” according to her mentors.