Graduating Scholars in Mathematics, Computer Science to Spend Next Year Completing Master’s Degrees at University of Cambridge
Photo by Kolin Behrens
Two University of Maryland seniors have been awarded 2022 Winston Churchill Scholarships, joining only 14 other sciences, engineering and mathematics students nationwide winning the prestigious honor.
Steven Jin, a mathematics major, and Naveen Raman, a computer science and mathematics double major, will receive full funding to pursue one-year master’s degrees at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. The scholarship, valued at around $60,000, covers all educational fees and provides living and travel allowances.
“Steven and Naveen have both demonstrated a sustained commitment to research, leadership and service,” said Amitabh Varshney, dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. “I join their mentors and the entire Terp community in congratulating them on being named Churchill Scholars. We couldn't be more proud of them!”
A total of 110 nominations for Churchill Scholarships this year came from 73 participating institutions. Seven UMD students have been nominated in the past five years—and all of them have been named Churchill Scholars.
“Lightning doesn’t usually strike twice in a competition as fierce as the Churchill, but Steven and Naveen are forces of nature and this extraordinary twin success is testament to their hard work, talent and ambition,” said Richard Bell, a UMD professor of history who serves as the university’s faculty advisor for United Kingdom fellowships.
Jin, who is interested in arithmetic algebraic geometry and geometric representation, has already published two papers, had a third paper recently accepted, and given 11 oral presentations at research conferences and 25 expository talks.
The Churchill Scholarship will allow him to pursue his Master of Advanced Study degree at the University of Cambridge. Jin plans to then earn a Ph.D. in mathematics.
“I am interested in a modern research program called the Langlands Program, which describes a broad web of research threads that aim to unite certain concepts across fields like number theory, algebraic geometry and even Fourier analysis,” Jin said.
At UMD, he has worked with mathematics Professor Lawrence Washington on elliptic curve analogues of classical lower bounds on the least primitive root of a prime. This work resolves a variation of a well-studied question about the integers, recast to the modern context of arithmetic algebraic geometry. With his departmental honors thesis advisor, mathematics Professor Thomas Haines, Jin is working to develop a theory of Rapoport-Zink local models for split reductive groups over arbitrary function fields.
“Steven Jin is an extremely energetic, passionate and devoted student of mathematics,” Haines said. “He is unusually broadly informed for an undergraduate student and is currently functioning like a mid-career graduate student.”
Jin has received the UMD Department of Mathematics’ Strauss Scholarship, Dan Shanks Award in computational number theory, Higginbotham Award and several travel grants to speak at research conferences. He was also awarded a Maryland Summer Scholars grant.
Outside the classroom, he speaks to students in high school math clubs in Howard County, Maryland, where he grew up and attended Mount Hebron High School. He has also tutored dozens of students as they prepared for SAT, ACT and AP exams, trained students for the American Math Competition and helped inmates in Howard County prepare for the mathematics GED test.
As a residence hall president, assistant vice president of academic affairs for the SGA and SGA representative to the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center advisory committee, Jin spearheaded projects like expanding study spaces across campus, promoting textbook affordability and increasing internship-related travel support.
Raman, a computer science and mathematics double major, has authored or co-authored seven conference papers on topics at the intersection of computer science, economics and social good.
The Churchill Scholarship will allow him to work on his M.Phil. in computer science in the University of Cambridge Computer Lab, where he’ll focus on the fairness of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms in critical fields such as criminal justice, job markets and health care. After that, Raman plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science.
“AI and ML have the potential to revolutionize health care through improvements in clinical prognosis, but predicting patient outcomes and diseases is especially challenging for patients from marginalized communities due to data sparsity and bias,” he said. “I plan to combat these problems by developing robust learning algorithms that work in the presence of data perturbations and minimize error rates.”
Raman began using intelligent computing with Distinguished University Professor of Computer Science Aravind Srinivasan and former computer science Assistant Professor Max Leiserson. He then worked with computer science Assistant Professor John Dickerson to develop policies that balance fairness and profit in ride-pooling systems, and now works with computer science Associate Professor Jordan Boyd-Graber to improve question answering systems by leveraging data from trivia competitions.
“Naveen is working at the forefront of a broad portfolio of fields—software engineering with his CMU colleagues, natural language processing with Jordan Boyd-Graber here at UMD, computer vision with his MIT Lincoln Labs colleagues, and “EconCS” meets fairness in AI with me,” Dickerson said.
Raman, who attended Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland, is a member of the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students program in the Honors College and the Global Fellows program. He is also a Goldwater Scholar, President’s Scholar, Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar and a Computing Research Association Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher finalist. He has been awarded the Brendan Iribe Endowed Scholarship, Capital One Bank Dean’s Scholarship in Computer Science and Corporate Partners in Computing Scholarship.
Raman’s team won the National Academy Quiz Tournaments’ Division 2 Intercollegiate Championship Tournament during his freshman year. In 2020, he and two classmates received an honorable mention award in the 72-hour Mathematical Contest in Modeling.
He has been a teaching assistant for a programming languages class and the lead student instructor for a class on algorithms for coding interviews.
Off campus, Raman teaches math skills to underprivileged elementary school students in the Maryland Mentor Program and volunteered at the College Park Academy charter school helping students improve their math skills.
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