Jun Yan awarded prestigious Faculty of Mathematics Alumni Gold Medal

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Jun Yan is this year’s University of Waterloo Faculty of Mathematics recipient of the Alumni Gold Medal in recognition of his academic excellence. 

Yan, who graduated with a double major in Pure Mathematics and Combinatorics & Optimization and a minor in Psychology, earned the coveted award after achieving a 97.34 cumulative average and a 98.72 major average.

Jun Yan, Waterloo's Faculty of Mathematics 2020 recipient of the Alumni Gold Medal“I know I have worked hard and achieved very good grades during my undergraduate years, but it was still a pleasant surprise to find out I will be the recipient of this award, especially after I realized only one graduate per faculty gets awarded,” Yan said. “I feel very honored that the hard work I put in and the skills I acquired have been recognized.”

Yan developed a keen interest in mathematics in high school, entering several contests before matriculating to Waterloo, where he continued to excel in the subject. He received the 2020 William Tutte Centenary Scholarship and the Pure Mathematics Department Silver Medal. 

“I enjoy the study of Pure Mathematics because of its abstract and challenging nature, while the search and exploitation of order and symmetry are what drew me to the study of Combinatorics,” Yan said. “Psychology was not a subject on my radar at all when I first entered university. But topics like language development and theory of mind in the introductory psychology course I took as an elective fascinated me so much that I eagerly signed up for more.” 

During his undergraduate studies, Yan attended the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program, where he collaborated with other researchers on a project about Gallai colourings. A paper titled Remarks on the Distribution of Colors in Gallai Colorings, which summarizes the results of the project, has been published by the Discrete Mathematics journal.

The 21-year-old is most interested in Enumerative Combinatorics and plans to pursue an academic career in mathematics. He will be leaving Canada, for now, to continue his studies at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Still, he would happily return to Canada if the right opportunity presents itself. 

“Canada is the first foreign country I have lived in, and it has been a very enjoyable experience,” Yan said. “During my four years at Waterloo, I both learned a lot and grew a lot as a person.”

About the Alumni Gold Medal

The Alumni Gold Medals are carefully crafted on Waterloo’s campus in state-of-the-art labs. Each uniquely dated and numbered medal is created out of nickel super alloy using a 3D printer. The surface is finished by hand to produce a brilliant shine. Through the process of electroplating, the medal is then coated in 24-carat gold. 

On the recommendation of the Dean of a Faculty or the Dean of Graduate Studies, one undergraduate representing each of Waterloo’s six faculties receives this prestigious award. 

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