Alice Lin ’20 was announced as one of the 15 recipients of the Churchill Scholarship, which will fund one year of study of mathematics at Cambridge University.
Forty-three University students have been granted the scholarship in its history — the highest number of any institution.
This year was the most competitive in the scholarship’s history. From 82 participating institutions, 127 students were nominated for the award.
Lin hails from Berkeley Lake, Georgia, and is a concentrator in mathematics. At Churchill College, which focuses on science, mathematics, and technology, she will complete Part III of the Mathematical Tripos, thus receiving a Master of Advanced Study in mathematics.
After Cambridge, she plans to return to the United States to start a PhD and then pursue a career as a research mathematician.
“[The scholarship] gives me ... time to focus on learning math rather than doing research,” wrote Lin in an email statement to The Daily Princetonian. “This year abroad will be super helpful in my future work, since it will give me a better sense of what kind of math I want to do, as well as build a stronger intuition about how different subfields are connected.”
First established in 1963, the Churchill Scholarships are awarded to “exceptional” students from the United States (US) and were created at the personal request of former United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, who imagined the program as a part of a scientific exchange between the US and UK.
Lin said she is looking forward to the experience since she has never studied abroad or been to the UK before.
“From what I’ve read and heard, the style of learning at Cambridge is much more independent than at Princeton,” she added. “So I’m a bit nervous but also very excited to see what that will be like.”
Lin credits much of her success to the many mentors she has found at the University, especially her junior paper advisor, Yunqing Tang, a former postdoc in the mathematics department.
“It is very impressive that Alice carried out this project successfully as an undergraduate,” said Tang, according to the University statement. “Overall, I think Alice has the potential to be an excellent mathematician.”
At Cambridge, Lin looks forward to strengthening her knowledge of algebra and number theory, as well as learning new techniques from representation theory, algebraic topology, and differential geometry.
A recipient of the Peter A. Greenberg ’77 Prize from her department and the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, Lin sees herself as having come a long way.
“An honor like this would have been unimaginable to me as a first-year student, struggling to understand the introductory math major courses,” she wrote. “Slowly I am starting to realize that the moments when things feel most difficult are when you are making the most progress, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.”
Currently Lin serves as advising chair for the Princeton Math Club, a teaching assistant in the mathematics department, a violinist for the Princeton University Orchestra, and president of the Princeton Bee Team, the University’s beekeeping club.
She has also received an Outstanding Poster Award at the Joint Math Meetings in January 2019 for “Asymptotic Bounds for Extended Elliptic Pseudoprimes,” based on research she conducted at Boise State University with professor of mathematics Liljana Babinkostova, with funding from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates.
The scholarship was announced on Thursday, Jan. 30 and will fund a year of tuition and fees, living expenses, and travel.