Third-Year Rainie Heck Wins 2019 Goldwater Scholarship

May 22, 2019
Amanda Nagy
Picture of woman sitting on a bridge
Rainie Heck, a third-year mathematics and physics double major, is a recipient of the 2019 Goldwater Scholarship. Photo credit: Courtesy of Rainie Heck

Third-year Rainie Heck, a mathematics and physics double major, has clearly mapped her goals for the future, and she hopes that being awarded a Goldwater Scholarship will make her a competitive candidate for future awards and scholarship programs.

Heck, who is from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is studying abroad in Hungary this spring with the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program. Her research interests include number theory, topology, algebra, and geometry.

The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Heck is among nearly 500 students chosen from a pool of more than 5,000 applicants in the United States. Through a highly competitive process, scholars are nominated by academic institutions to compete for funding to help cover the costs of their undergraduate tuition and room and board. Juniors who are awarded a Goldwater Scholarship will receive up to $7,500 their senior year.

Heck has collaborated with Assistant Professor of Mathematics Ben Linowitz to study arithmetic hyperbolic 3-manifolds, and she will continue that line of research for her senior honors project. In summer 2018, she conducted research in hyperbolic geometry, specifically about fundamental domains of hyperbolic 3 manifolds, a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) at the University of California, Berkeley. She wrote a paper about her findings that is currently under review for publication.

This summer, Heck is slated to study algebraic combinatorics in another NSF-funded project with a faculty member at the University of Michigan.

At Oberlin, Heck is a member of the varsity women’s tennis team and a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society. She also works as an OWLS tutor and grader for a variety of math and physics classes.

Heck says she intends to apply for a Fulbright scholarship to spend a year in Hungary after graduation. She is also considering applications for the Marshall and National Science Foundation scholarships.

“My goal is to pursue a PhD in math and continue to do research as a professor at a major research university,” Heck says. “I hope that having won the Goldwater, I will be more competitive for these awards and programs.”

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