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Samuel Bidwell

Middletown, CT

Wesleyan University

Activities & Involvement:

I participated in two notable academic competitions: the William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition, generally regarded to be the most difficult and competitive mathematical competition in the world, and Quiz Bowl, for which I was a member of Wesleyan’s team. The Putnam was an excellent chance to test my mettle at mathematical proof alongside the most skilled collegiate mathematicians. Quiz Bowl, on the other hand, was always an enjoyable experience allowing us to get off campus to places like Chicago and Boston. There, we met new people, tried local specialties, and made many memories. But beyond my love for competition, I also worked at Wesleyan’s Math Workshop, where I discovered my passion for teaching and helping those who seek it. It’s nice to see students consistently returning to my sessions because they’re comfortable working with me and they know I know my stuff.

Honors & Achievements:

First and foremost, I will graduate Wesleyan University with High Honors in Mathematics as a result of my successful completion and defense of my senior thesis, “The Minimum Difference in Crossing Number between a Graph and its Cone”. This thesis was the culmination of almost a year’s worth of work in research into graph theory, and presented some new results.

Additionally, I participated in the Putnam Competition, which is taken annually by over 4000 students, on average, and for which the median score is 0 out of 120 points. I scored over 20 points on the exam each year, placing me well within the top 10% of all competitors. The Putnam is the pinnacle of mathematical competition; my consistent performance at this level is something I’m very proud of.

Future Plans:

I have been accepted to Wesleyan’s BA/MA program, which means that I’ll be continuing for one more year, at which point I will graduate with a Master of Arts in Mathematics. In the slightly shorter term, I’m going to do three things this summer: kick back a bit, be a teaching assistant, and continue my research, leading into working on my master’s thesis in the fall.

In the long term, I’m going to pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics. After that, I’d like to continue teaching and doing research as a professor. That being said, no plan ever goes according to plan; there are several other avenues I could explore which satisfy those desires. I would enjoy working at the NSA if that’s where I end up, for example.

Proudest Moments:

I am most proud of graduating with High Honors in Mathematics. Only those students who work to submit a senior thesis can earn Honors at all; High Honors is a recognition beyond that, given only to a select few.

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