Humans of the U: Annie Giokas

“I started as an international transfer student from Georgia, a country in the Caucasus. I was nervous about adjusting to a new environment and, in addition, the pandemic started during my first semester at the University of Utah. Thankfully, understanding professors in the Department of Mathematics encouraged me and the friendly attitudes of my peers helped motivate me.

Many say that the easiest way to get into research as an undergraduate is ask their instructors for research opportunities. Unfortunately, transfer students get limited time to interact with their professors. I knew I had to make use of resources offered by the math department to the fullest. The turning point for me was during an independent study on the topic of commutative algebra. I knew then and there I wanted to pursue graduate studies on that topic. This led me to my Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)-funded thesis and another research project supported by a Research Training Grant. Participating in undergraduate research helped me gain skills as an independent thinker and the courage to improve at public speaking after presenting at multiple conferences.

I started the Math Club at the U to establish a space for undergrads to discuss mathematics and have a platform for presenting topics they are passionate about. The pandemic made it hard to organize large-scale in-person events, which is why the organizing committee made an online platform for students to connect. It was fulfilling to see people connect with others who they don’t usually interact with.

I am continuing my funded research project this summer, then I will begin my Ph.D. at Purdue University. I am very privileged to get the chance to work with amazing people. The University of Utah gave me the skills and support that I needed to succeed in my chosen career.”

—Annie Giokas, Class of 2022, H.B.S. in Mathematics , College of Science, founder, Math Club