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NMSU graduate student wins best thesis honors

Luis David Garcia, a first-semester graduate student in mathematical sciences at New Mexico State University, has been awarded the Premio Sotero Prieto Award from the Mexican Mathematical Association. Named after a prominent Mexican mathematician, the award is given each year to the student with the best undergraduate math thesis in Mexico.

Garcia, who is from Mexico City, graduated from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) in the spring. A requirement of graduation in Mexican universities is a senior thesis, he explained. Although many students write about research that has already been done, the award committee looks for a thesis that presents new results, he said.

His research used tools common to computational algebraic geometry to solve an abstract problem in theory of groups, proving some new theorems. "Some of the theorems we got were a result of lots of examples run on the computer," he said. "We found patterns, then proved them."

His interest in computational mathematics brought him to NMSU. "I really like that branch of math," he said. "And the department here has a very productive group in symbolic computation."

"Luis has been the catalyst for a long-term bi-national research and education collaboration," said David Finston, head of mathematical sciences at NMSU. "As an added bonus, we were able to bring his undergraduate thesis advisor, Professor Maria Alicia Avino Diaz, to NMSU for the academic year."

Garcia will share best thesis honors this year with one other recipient. The next time he returns home, Garcia will see the certificate and silver medal he earned.

"I was very happy to find out I received the award," he said. "It was pretty amazing for two reasons. One, it is the biggest honor that an undergraduate in math can achieve. And two, I was already here and that was just in the background."

Garcia is now working toward his doctorate and plans to continue teaching in the future.