Welcome to Somerville Mathematics

Welcome to Somerville Mathematics, a blog devoted to exciting mathematical things happening in Somerville MA. I am the founder of The Somerville Mathematics Fund, www.Somervillemathematicsfund.org
The Math Fund was chartered to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville. I hope you will check out my TEDxSomerville talk on the Somerville Math Fund,
I find that there are many other interesting things happening mathematically in Somerville and I hope on this blog to have others share what they are doing. So please contact me at mathfund@gmail.com if you would like to contribute an article.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Outstanding Students win Somerville Math Fund Scholarships

The Somerville Mathematics Fund is pleased to announce the winners of their renewable mathematics scholarships for 2020.  The Math Fund was founded to celebrate and encourage math achievement and these students deserve to be celebrated for their work in math and science while in high school. Thanks to the generosity of many individuals and a few organizations, this year we were able to award a record 8 scholarships, totaling $48,000 over four years.
The winners were in the top row: Christiana Brand, Luca Duclos-Orsello, Harmanpreet Kaur, and Timothy Labounko.
Bottom Row: Ziye OuYang, Owen Sheehy, Harmeet Singh and Jaskaran Singh

Due to COVID-19, we were unable to award the scholarships at an awards night.  The school notified the students they had won without telling them which scholarship, so they didn’t know the President of the Somerville Math Fund would be calling each of them to tell them of their award and that a letter was in the mail.

The winners are attening a variety of schools next  fall.  Christina Brand, Ziye OuYang, and Owen Sheehy will attend UMass Amherst; Luca Duclos-Orsell, Brown; Harmanpreet Kaur, MIT; Timothy Labounko, University of Southern California; Harmeet Singh, UMass Boston; and Jaskaran Singh, UMass Lowell.

Their annual scholarships of $1500 are renewable for up to a total of four years as long as they maintain a B average and take mathematics or courses which use mathematics.

There were three memorial scholarships this year:  Dr. Alice T  Schafer Scholarship, Lt. Catherine M. Landers, and Michael Voolich.

One of the scholarships was given in the memory of an outstanding woman mathematician, Dr. Alice T Schafer.  Harmanpreet Kaur was awarded the Alice T Schafer Memorial Scholarship. Harmanpreet is planning on majoring computer engineering at MIT, the school where Dr Schafer’s husband taught mathematics for many years when she was teaching mathematiacs at Wellesley College.
Dr Alice Schafer Scholarship winner Harmanpreet Kaur

Dr. Schafer (1915 - 2009) was orphaned as an infant and raised by two aunts.  When she went to college at the University of Richmond of Virginia, women students weren’t allowed in the library and she was discouraged from majoring in mathematics.  She won prizes, earned a PhD, taught at colleges (including Wellesley) and among the things she is known for is helping start the Association for Women in Mathematics (1971).

Less known about Dr. Schafer was her role helping to start the Somerville Mathematics Fund in 2000 -- attending all of the planning meetings and contributing to their work as long as she was able.  She is remembered for her passion and work to insure mathematical opportunities for women. Since Dr. Schafer was committed to the education and supporting women in mathematics, Harmanpreet’s majoring in computer science is a wonderful way to honor Dr. Alice Schafer's memory.

The Lt. Catherine M. Landers Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Jaskaran Singh. Jaskaran has in interest in statistics and is planning on majoring in business.  When Lt. Landers (1920 - 2012) wanted to go to nursing school (graduating in 1942), her grandmother opened a cedar chest were she had been saving dollar bills to help pay for her granddaughter’s education.  Lt Landers won a Bronze Star for her service during WW2, where she ran a field hospital outside Paris; she was about to be shipped to the far East when WW2 ended and so she boarded a transport ship for the USA instead.   Jay Landers and Jasper Lawson donated a scholarship in her memory, honoring her commitment to education. Jaskaran's interest business is a wonderful way to honor Lt. Landers' commitment to education.
Lt Catherine Landers Scholarship winner Jaskaran  Singh

Our newest named scholarship is in the memory of Michael Voolich.  This year it was awarded to Timothy Labounko who is planning on majoring in civil engineering at University of Southern California.  Michael Voolich (1943 - 2019) was a person who was interested in how everything worked, if Renaissance man was a job offering, Michael would have applied. He learned by asking questions and then he loved telling everyone what he had learned and how seemingly disparate things were related.  He had a career than included teaching many different subjects in local schools, none of which was math. But, he married a math teacher.  So, when the Somerville Math Fund was being discussed and organized in his living room, of course he joined the founding board.
Michael Voolich Scholarship winner Tim Labounko

He liked to do things for people and of course for the math fund.  His telephone calls and trips to Table Talk Pie Company each year for city-wide Pi Night celebration were a highlight each year. He especially loved helping find things for others to donate for the Scrapheap Showdown each year and his marvelous multiple clamps will still be a necessary part of future Scrapheap challenges to come.

Michael loved to be able to give and help others in the local community along with his extended family here and abroad. This scholarship was funded by the many people who donated in his memory to the Somerville Math Fund.  Timothy’s fascination with transportation engineering and planning would clearly lead to many interesting discussions if Michael were still alive — another student who wants to know how it works!

The Somerville Mathematics Fund was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage achievement in mathematics in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts. It May 2011, it was recognized as the outstanding Dollars for Scholars Chapter in New England.  Since it's founding in 2000, it has awarded $445,000 in four-year mathematics scholarships to ninety-nine outstanding Somerville students.  Next fall, The Somerville Mathematics Fund will be seeking applications from teachers who teach in the city of Somerville who would like funding for classroom mathematics activities.  In October, the Math Fund will also be seeking high school students to compete in the annual Scrapheap Showdown.  For more information, to volunteer, or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please contact Erica Voolich (617-666-0666 or mathfund@gmail.com) or go to www.somervillemathematicsfund.org.

The link to this post: https://somervillemathematics.blogspot.com/2020/06/outstanding-students-win-somerville.html


  1. What a wonderful, international group of winners!! I am also glad to read that there is a scholarship in memory of Michael. Cheers!!