Gillman ’20 Wins Goldwater Scholarship to Pursue Education in Number Theory

Olivia DrakeMay 6, 20196min
Nate Gillman ’20 received a Goldwater Scholarship that will support his tuition and related academic expenses during his senior year at Wesleyan.

Nate Gillman ’20, a computer science and mathematics double major from Maryland, is the recipient of a 2019 Barry Goldwater Scholarship. He’s one of 496 college students in the country to receive the award.

The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming the next generation of research leaders in the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, and engineering. The scholarship provides up to $7,500 a year to help cover costs associated with undergraduate tuition, mandatory fees, books, and room and board.

Gillman knew he wanted to study math—specifically analytic number theory—after enrolling in a calculus class in high school.

“I have unwavering appreciation and love—and fear—for number theory,” he said. “Appreciation, because the concrete yet abstract nature of number theory captured my imagination at a younger age. Love, because nothing feels better than using a particularly clever estimate to demonstrate a result. And fear, because using tools from calculus to prove fundamental results about numbers entails delving into profound, universal truths.”

Gillman has already participated in three research programs. In 2016, “even before moving into [his] first college dorm,” Gillman participated in a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) project on algebraic geometry and combinatorics at the University of Maryland in College Park. During the summer of 2017, he conducted research in Lie theory (real form) at Wesleyan. And this past summer, Gillman built on those experiences at the Emory University REU, conducting research in analytic number theory. This research led to the publication of his first paper titled “Exact Formulas for Invariants of Hilbert Schemes.” He also recently submitted a paper for publication titled “Explicit subconvexity savings for sup-norms of cusp forms on PGL_n(R).”

“These opportunities helped to clarify goals for future research, while also broadening my knowledge base and skill set,” he said.

Gillman’s Wesleyan tenure began by delving deep into the basics of algebra and analysis—”fundamental tools in the research mathematician’s toolbox”—and found himself thriving in graduate-level mathematics courses during his sophomore year.

This fall, Gillman participated in the Math in Moscow program, where he gained a solid understanding of foundations of math crucial to a number theorist. This spring, he’s enrolled in the Budapest Semesters in Math program, conducting analytic number theory research with Professor Péter Maga. This summer, he will return to the Emory REU and then plans to spend his senior year back at Wesleyan and write an honors thesis on his ongoing number theory research.

“These choices and opportunities provide the fundamentals to proceed down a challenging career path as an analytic number theorist: an appreciation for the intensity of math research, a broad knowledge base in a myriad of complex topics, a deeper knowledge base in number theory, and experience completing research projects in focused subfields of analytic number theory,” Gillman said.

Gillman’s advisors at Wesleyan are Saray Shai, assistant professor of computer science, and Felipe Ramirez, assistant professor of mathematics. He’s also been a student of, and course assistant for Ilesanmi Adeboye, assistant professor of mathematics,

“Nate is a talented and motivated math student,” Adeboye said. “He completed the math major in three semesters and has taken a number of graduate-level classes. He was the inaugural recipient of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department’s Citation for Citizenship award, largely due to his efforts in revitalizing the Math Club. Nate is a well-rounded person, whose passion for ‘all things math’ is matched with his activity in his faith community, his work with school-aged kids, and his enthusiasm for old episodes of The Wonder Years.”

After graduating, Gillman intends to pursue a PhD in pure mathematics. He hopes to conduct research in analytic number theory and to teach at the university level, as well as run a Research Experience for Undergraduates.

“I would like to thank all my mathematical mentors for their invaluable support and guidance, in particular, Ilesanmi Adeboye, Cameron Hill, Ken Ono, and Felipe Ramirez, and my high school math teachers, in particular, John Chase and Laura Goetz,” he said. “Most of all, I’d like to thank my parents, Todd and Lesli Gillman.”