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!