Academics and Research / Magazine Feature / People

DU PhD student scores academic feat

University of Denver PhD student Kyle Pula has been awarded two prestigious academic honors that will allow him to study mathematics in Australia.

Last week, Pula was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Scholarship and found out he has been accepted into the National Science Foundation’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes program.

Pula will study the mathematical concept of Latin squares and work with professors at Monash University, the University of Queensland, and Australian National University. Latin squares have been studied since at least the late 1700s and have been implemented in numerous real-world applications ranging from the design of experiments to optimal crop rotations to secure and efficient digital communication.

“Australia has a rich heritage of expertise in mathematics,” says Pula. “This experience will direct my course for long-term success as a teacher-scholar as I learn from world class researchers.”

Pula has taught mathematics and currently serves as the MathCounts coach at DU’s Ricks Center for Gifted Children.

Pula starts the shorter NSF program in June 2009 then starts an academic year of study in August under the Fulbright scholarship.

The Fulbright Program is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The scholarship is awarded to people based on academic or professional achievement and potential for leadership. Pula is one of more than 1,450 U.S. students who will travel abroad under the program this year.

The National Science Foundation’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes provide U.S. graduate students in science and engineering with first-hand research experiences in Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore or Taiwan. The primary goals of EAPSI are to introduce students to East Asia and Pacific science and engineering and to help students initiate scientific relationships that will enable collaboration with foreign counterparts.

“These grants confirm what we already suspect: that Mr. Pula is well on his way to establishing both a national and an international reputation in the field of mathematics,” says Carol Helstosky, DU Fulbright adviser. “The fact that his work has attracted the interest of leading scholars in the field of Latin squares means that they see incredible potential in his work and scholarship.”

Upon his return to DU in 2010, Pula will complete his dissertation and begin applying for academic positions. Pula is the 25th Fulbright Scholar from DU since 1993.

“Kyle is one of the best advanced graduate students we have in the mathematics department,” says Michael Kinyon, DU associate professor of mathematics. “These two prestigious awards give an excellent jump start on his research, and position him well for future academic positions.”

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