Recent mathematics alumnus recognized for his outstanding research

Jimmy He portrait

Every year, the Jessie W.H. Zou Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research is presented to an exceptional student enrolled in their final year of any program within the faculty of Mathematics. In order to qualify for the award, the student needs to conduct significant research within their field and be nominated by their supervisor.

This year, Statistics and Pure Mathematics double major, Jimmy He was awarded the prestigious accolade at his convocation.

During his final year, Jimmy worked alongside Professor Kathryn Hare as an undergraduate research assistant. The main focus of his research was on harmonic analysis – a branch of mathematics concerned with the representation of signals as the superposition of basic waves.

Despite the intense subject matter of his research, Jimmy says that working under Prof. Hare was a rewarding experience:

I was given a lot of freedom to try things out myself. This was frustrating sometimes when I ran into a wall, but it really helped me appreciate just how difficult research can be.

In her nomination, Prof. Hare commended Jimmy for his contribution, stating that "[he] has an extraordinary ability for finding deep results in the literature, understanding their subtleties, and applying them in creative ways."

Despite his academic success, Jimmy admits that at times, he’s struggled to find motivation.

It can be hard to stay focused on the learning. It takes a lot of effort to not only to pass a course but to also ensure that you truly understand the material. If you lose sight of that it becomes a lot harder to excel.

Jimmy believes that the best way to succeed is to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and continue to challenge yourself.

I've seen a lot of people held back by their fear of failure or looking stupid. I believe that you should always try to take initiative – this could be anything, from starting a club to passing an actuarial exam. The biggest mistake is to stop pushing yourself because of fear.

As for Jimmy – his sights are set on academia. This fall he will begin a PhD in Mathematics at Stanford University as a big stepping stone for his research career.

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