“Here, the personal interaction with professors is enriching and you find friendship with them.”
Originally from Eagan, Minnesota, Saint Mary’s turned out to be the perfect fit for Brianna Kozemzak '17. As a first year, Brianna thought she would major in biology on the pre-medicine track, but after taking the math requirements, she found a passion for applied mathematics.
What interested Brianna the most is the way math can be applied to solve many problems. She’s had two opportunities to do research, one with Elizabeth Wolf as part of a SISTAR grant. The duo developed a mathematical model for mumps outbreaks in small communities.
Halfway through her junior year, she decided to pursue graduate school instead of medical school.
During the summer, she worked with Dr. Pedro Mendes at UConn Health creating a model for how copper moves throughout bacterial cells.
Researching a future together
Although she loves doing research, Brianna’s favorite part is sharing what she has learned at conferences.
“I really like seeing what other people are researching and all the useful applications of math.” She has presented at several conferences including the Joint Math Meetings and Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics.
Peer support has been important for her growth, Brianna says.
“The student community here is tight-knit and that has taught me that I value close relationships with those I work with.”
Inspiring friendships outside the classroom
The support of faculty has inspired and motivated Brianna to continue with research.
“The faculty provide a good support network. The summer opportunities I received were possible because of encouragement from my professors. Here, the personal interaction with professors is enriching and you find friendship with them.”
She has applied to 11 PhD programs and is spending much of her spring semester traveling to visit the schools and learn about their programs.
“A lot of people don’t see the application of math in the real world, but it’s everywhere.”