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Lea Kenigsberg: 2017 NSF Graduate Research Fellow

Lea Kenigsberg
Lea Kenigsberg

Lea Kenigsberg

Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Bnei Berak, Israel

What is your research focus, and how might your research change the world?
My interests lie in Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Physics. While I don’t know my research focus yet, and what applications it may have, it is my hope that if I can make it through grad school, and afterwards in the academic world, my story can encourage other mothers and nontraditional students or students from disadvantaged backgrounds that attaining and pursuing a career in mathematics is indeed possible.

How does it feel to earn this fellowship, and how will this fellowship enhance your research?
I feel privileged and honored to be an NSF fellow, and also relieved. Being a single mother, my expenses exceed the standard stipend given to PhD students. The NSF fellowship will supplement my stipend and will allow me to concentrate on my studies and research. I am grateful to the NSF for affording me this opportunity.

What advice can you share with other students applying for the NSF GRF?
Learning how to express my passion for mathematics took time and practice and lots of guidance and advice from Jennifer Green and Anne McElroy. I highly recommend meeting with Jennifer and attending the workshops administered by Anne.

How did your experience as an undergrad at Stony Brook help you become competitive for this award?
At Stony Brook University I found not only an excellent academic environment with endless opportunities to pursue my passions and interests, but also a warm and caring mathematical community. I met passionate and inspiring professors who shaped and influenced my love for mathematics. I feel grateful and privileged for having the opportunity to spend my undergraduate years here at SBU.

Throughout the application process I received support, advice, and encouragement from Professor McElroy, and from Jennifer Green with the IREP office. Jennifer guided me with various other applications, including the one for the Goldwater scholarship. It is thanks to her that I learned how to translate my passions and ambitions into a competitive application.

I want to thank Professor Moira Chas, my math mom, for being my role model as a mathematician, professor, and a mother.

Where will you attend graduate school this fall? How has receiving the GRF influenced your choice?
I will attend the math PhD program at Columbia University.

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