Skip to main content
Department ofMathematics and Computer Science

Rick Scott Memorial Scholars

Richard A. Scott, SCU class of 1988, received his PhD in mathematics from MIT and returned to join the faculty of Santa Clara in 1997. In 2014, Rick received a prestigious Simons Faculty Collaboration Grant of $35,000 to support his numerous collaborations with colleagues around the world.

To honor his life in mathematics, Rick’s family has requested that donations in his memory be directed to the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science to fund a Rick Scott Memorial Scholar, a student or students whose research in mathematics memorializes Rick’s many collaborations. In 1987, Frank Farris directed Rick’s own undergraduate research, resulting in his article, “Differential Invariants of Curves in Projective Space” being published in Mathematics Magazine in 1989.

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science will use donations given to our Alexanderson-Pennello Fund for Student-Faculty Collaboration in Rick Scott’s memory to fund at least one Rick Scott Memorial Scholar each year, typically for summer work and usually administered through the REAL program of the College of Arts and Sciences. The scholar or scholars should be chosen for their potential to carry out research similar in spirit to the numerous student projects Rick supervised.

We expect no exact match between donations specified as honoring Rick and funding for scholars, as our A-P Fund already supports quite a number of student research projects. However, should donations in Rick’s memory exceed the amount required to support an annual scholar, we would consider segregating funds into a Rick Scott Memorial Scholar Fund.

Scholars will receive a stipend to support summer research directed by a faculty member in the department. They will also certificate, similar to those we use for our other awards and be recognized at our Spring Awards Banquet. Students honored in this way will be listed on a departmental website, with pictures of the students and faculty mentors, as well as brief descriptions of the work they did. We hope that this website will show the continued impact of the career of our friend and colleague, Rick Scott, on the intellectual life of the department.

Current Scholars

For Summer 2023, we were able to designate three Rick Scott Memorial Scholars, Tong (Ben) Chen, Jingxuan (Paisley) Hou, and Yanni (Rebecca) Zhu in a project called “The Artistic Potential of the Bessel Functions,” supervised by Frank Farris and Reza Shariatmadari. The work will be presented at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January 2024 and offered for publication. Each of the scholars was invited to submit a brief bio and personal statement.

Ben Chen

Tong (Ben) Chen is a rising senior majoring in mathematics with a minor in Computer Science. Ben is passionate about decoding the randomness of our world, so he steps into the field of statistics and data science. He appreciates classical music and enjoys playing roguelike games in his leisure hours.

“Grateful to have been designated a Rick Scott Memorial Scholar, I embarked on a transformative journey to uncover the intrinsic beauty of mathematics throughout the entire summer. The project deepened my appreciation for the exquisite interplay between mathematics and art and inspired me to look for beauty in my daily life. Within this immersive experience, our team harnessed the beauty of Bessel functions to simulate the vibrations of a circular membrane, seamlessly harmonizing it with the art of texture mapping through domain coloring techniques. The power of wave functions can turn any fragments of beauty in our daily life, such as a charming sunset or some delicate flowers, into appealing patterns.”

Paisley Hou

Jingxuan (Paisley) Hou is a rising senior in Santa Clara University with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. She declared her emphasis in Data Science and is interested in optimization questions in machine learning. In particular, she is looking to apply her knowledge in math and data structures to solve problems in machine learning. She looks forward to gaining new insights on some unseen potentials of mathematics, and translating her understanding to her continuing investigation in machine learning.

“I am grateful to be named a Rick Scott Memorial Scholar because this project allowed me to apply my math and programming skills in the wonderful landscape of visual art. I was able to learn over the summer about the various mathematical formulae governing symmetries in wallpaper and vibrating waves, which led to a series of pleasant discoveries of the nature of Bessel functions. I carried over that knowledge to developing domain-coloring algorithms in MatLab to visualize wave surfaces from Bessel series in richer texture, and to animate their oscillations that model a vibrating drumhead. Overall, it was truly joyful for me to experience, through both the mind and the senses, the fascinating chemistry from synthesizing math, computer science, and art, and to see how abstract ideas may bear fruits in all kinds of unexpected ways.”

Rebecca Zhu

Yanni (Rebecca) Zhu is a rising junior applied mathematics major at UC Berkeley and a former mathematics major student at Santa Clara University with a passion for problem-solving and critical thinking. Throughout her college journey, she has enjoyed diving into the intricacies of mathematical concepts and exploring their applications in various fields. Rebecca helps others to grasp challenging mathematical ideas and explains complex mathematical concepts in easy ways, having worked as a peer educator for a whole school year.

“I am deeply grateful to have been chosen as a Rick Scott Memorial Scholar. This opportunity has afforded me a transformative experience in the captivating realm of Bessel functions and domain coloring, topics that touch both mathematics and art. This summer research has not only sharpened my understanding of advanced mathematics, but also promoted personal growth and a deep sense of accomplishment. I was able to bridge the gap between theoretical concepts and real-world applications. Throughout the project, I have collaborated with respected mentors and colleague who share my passion for mathematics and its applications. I have been able to combine this mathematical framework with artistic expression in order to create striking visual representations that revealed the inherent beauty of these functions. Overall, this experience allowed me to blend my love for mathematics with the arts while getting a glimpse of the limitless possibilities that come when mathematics is combined with other fields.”