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Opportunities Add up for Goldwater Scholar

Math, Computer Science Major Studying in Budapest This Fall

University of Idaho junior Ben Anzis has already taken almost every math class available at UI. Now, the mathematics and computer science double-major has his sights on Europe.

Anzis, 19, from Marshalltown, Iowa, was one of two UI students to receive the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship last spring, awarded annually through the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program.

Anzis is using the scholarship to fund another incredible opportunity — attending the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program in Budapest, Hungary. He left for Hungary in mid-August, 2015, and will return in December. There, he is studying advanced topics alongside some of North America’s other top math students.

A fellow UI mathematics student, Krista Stanley, 20, of Idaho Falls, is also attending the program.

“They have an elite group of professors from universities in Budapest,” Anzis said. “Hungary produces some of the best mathematicians in Europe.”

Before he left, Anzis said he was excited for the opportunity to explore Europe’s cities and culture — but equally excited for the academic experience. In Budapest, he is digging into esoteric mathematical areas such as number theory, which explores the relationships among whole numbers.

“It incorporates lots of different types of mathematics, so you get to learn everything,” he said. “Plus I like learning everything, so having something that combines it all is really nice.”

Anzis’ passion for all things mathematical connected him to UI when he was still in high school. His school ran out of math classes for him to take, so he began taking courses through UI’s Engineering Outreach program.

As a sophomore, he took graduate-level classes and immersed himself in research. He studies a variety of topics under the guidance of assistant professor Stefan Tohaneanu, and he won the UI College of Science Hill Research Fellowship as a freshman for his work.

Tohaneanu praised Anzis for his vast knowledge of math and his efforts to learn more.

“Ben has an extraordinary skill in absorbing, understanding and therefore working with new and difficult mathematical concepts. He has a brilliant mind shaped especially to answer math questions,” Tohaneanu said. “And above all, he is very passionate about mathematics and performing research in this field. He does not give up until he solves the problem, all the time looking at different, and often original, ways to approach it.”

Anzis said he’s appreciated the mentorship and friendship of Tohaneanu and other professors at UI.

“It’s very personable. You get to know the professors. I can do research with just about anyone, or just ask them a question,” he said. “It’s super easy to get as much out of it as I want.”

Anzis hopes to join his mentors’ ranks. After he graduates from UI, he plans to attend graduate school —preferably somewhere such as Princeton or MIT — and become a math professor.

The opportunity to teach, he says, gives him yet another way to delve even deeper into the world of math.

“It helps solidify my perspective on things,” he says. “You get to the point where you just don’t get much out of just reading — you have to go out and teach and interact with it in other ways.”

Article by Tara Roberts


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