Awards keep adding up for a local math scholar.
Rossland native Julie Nutini, a student at the University of B.C.’s Okanagan campus, was presented with the 2012 Governor General’s Gold Medal for achieving the highest academic standing at the graduate level.
The medal, which has been presented nationally since 1873, is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards that a Canadian student can receive.
“I am honoured to be the recipient of the Governor General’s Gold Medal this year,” said the 24-year-old Nutini in a UBC news release. “It is incredible to have my achievements and hard work recognized in such a prestigious way.”
She was presented with the award at the UBCO’s convocation ceremonies on June 7.
Nutini, the daughter of Rossland’s David and Marjorie Nutini, attended St. Michael’s Elementary School in Trail and graduated from Rossland Secondary School before enrolling at Selkirk College, where she began her undergraduate studies.
In an email reply to the Trail Daily Times, Nutini credited teachers at RSS for helping her on her path.
“All my teachers at RSS helped to provide me with a solid learning foundation. I started university with the skills and abilities required to be a successful student.
“As for how I got into mathematics, my dad was my senior high school mathematics teacher. Without a doubt, my inspiration started with him.”
She said her love of math is quite simple.
“I love that there is only one right answer in mathematics. Unlike a facts-based course like biology, I love that if you can’t remember how to solve a problem, you have a chance of working through the details and figuring it out.”
Nutini earned a master’s degree of math at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2010 when she was awarded a Graduate Entrance Scholarship. She also received the UBC Okanagan Scholarship and a UBC Okanagan Fellowship.
She worked with UBCO professor Warren Hare on developing a derivative-free optimization algorithm for functions with smooth substructure. Nutini explained mathematical optimization looks at how to minimize or maximize a function.
“For example, in economics, when companies want to minimize loss or maximize profit, they can use an optimization algorithm to do so.”
Miriam Grant, dean of the College of Graduate Studies, saluted Nutini in a press release.
“To cap her student experience at UBC’s Okanagan campus with the Governor General’s Award is a tribute to Julie’s dedication and diligent pursuit of investigative learning at the highest level.”
Nutini’s education is not finished yet, however. She has been awarded a Postgraduate Scholarship – Doctoral from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and will begin her PhD program in Computer Sciences at UBC’s Vancouver campus starting in September 2012.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to continue on in my studies, and I am looking forward to the challenges and experiences that the next years hold form me,” Nutini said in the release.