Laura Stordy, Mathemagician


This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura Stordy, my research partner, and a fellow math enthusiast. She’s a Sophomore at Agnes, an RA for the GEMS program, and a member of several clubs.

Her Campus: Hello Laura! Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for Her Campus.

Laura Stordy: Yeah, thanks for asking me.

HC: First off, congratulations are in order for the ring ceremony yesterday! How did the ceremony go?

LS: It was chill, we had to get there like an hour and fifteen minutes early so it was a lot of waiting around, but yeah it was fun.

HC: What is your major at Agnes?

LS: *laughs* I’m a math major.

HC: That’s really cool, that’s the coolest major.

LS: I know it is.

HC: Why did you decide to be a math major?

LS: I really like math. I mean, I’ve always wanted to do math; both my parents were math majors so when I was a kid it just started off as like, “Oh, I want to be like them,” and then I started doing math and I really liked it, and here I am.

HC: Very cool. Is there a particular avenue you want to take with math in your life?

LS: Yeah, I’m really interested in topology and group theory.

HC: Those are really cool areas of research.

LS: Yeah, they are.

HC: Tell us a little bit about what topology and group theory are.

LS: So, topology is the study of surfaces, where a surface is like “the same” as another one if you can bend it to be the other one. So for example, a doughnut is topologically equivalent to a coffee cup.

LS: When I was first learning all of it at my REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates, funded by the NSF) last summer, I had to use Playdough to model everything. So it’s like if you can make a shape out of Playdough and then without breaking it get it into another shape they would be topologically equivalent.

HC: So do you want to be a professor, or do you just want to do research, or have you not thought that far out?

LS: I don’t know. *laughs* I mean, I’m gonna go to grad school after Agnes and I guess I wanna do math research, and there are not many places you can get paid to do pure math outside academia, so...

HC: How have you involved yourself in research as an undergraduate?

LS: Last summer I did an REU, a research experience for undergraduates, at Georgia Tech in topology and group theory. And right now I’m doing research in abstract algebra!

HC: Wow that sounds really interesting and cool!

LS: Yeah my research partner is pretty cool, too. [The research is] on braces, which is when you have a set of two group structures which satisfy a certain condition. Which is hard, but cool.

HC: Are you hoping to present at SpARK?

LS: Yeah definitely!

HC: Did you attend SpARK last year?

LS: I went to the math bowl.

HC: Do you have a minor?

LS: Yeah, I’m minoring in Women’s Studies.

HC: Very exciting! Just because you enjoy Women’s Studies?

LS: Yeah it’s really cool, I like how it’s kind of a break from equations. I took 235 last year, which is like the Gender and the Law class because I wanted to be a lawyer at the time *laughs*, and just like fell in love with the department.

HC: You still could be a lawyer! What’s the name of the professor that teaches the senior seminar in math?

LS: Oh, Dr. Wasserman (a part-time math faculty at Agnes, Wasserman also supports Jewish students on campus with the Alexander and Loris Wasserman Scholarships). Yeah, we’re from the same town in Connecticut. Jewish geography.

HC: Are you involved in any clubs or organizations on campus?

LS: Yeah, I’m co-president of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM), and religious chair of Hillel, which is our Jewish student organization.

HC: So what do those two clubs do?

LS: AWM has a lot of like fun math events. Last week we did origami, but, like, math. And this week on Friday [February 23], or last week depending on when you post this, we’re having tea with the math department. And then Hillel is just, Jewish life on campus. So we do a lot of religious services, but then more like culture stuff. So like last week, two weeks ago, I don’t know time, we had a guy from the Breman Museum come and talk to us about southern Jewish history and stuff like that.

HC: If students wanna learn more about these clubs, where can they find out more information?

LS: There are Facebook pages for both clubs (AWM and Hillel). Like us on Facebook! Both pages post a lot.

HC: Are there any other things that you like to do for fun on campus?

LS: I’m an RA, I don’t know if that’s something I do “for fun,” but it’s another thing that takes up a lot of my time that I love.

HC: Are there any final comments you’d like to say about Agnes or about mat life?

LS: Agnes is cool. Math is fun.

HC: Come join AWM!

LS: Yeah, come join AWM, they’re cool.

HC: Well, thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed. LS: Thank you!

Audrey is a sophomore at Agnes Scott College majoring in math and minoring in music. When not studying she likes to read, watch shows, play games, listen to music, and hang out with friends. Her favorite genres are fantasy and sci-fi. Audrey hails from Minnesota but is enjoying being out in the Georgia winter. Her favorite animal is cats.

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