“I really enjoy every single moment I’m doing mathematics.” Pioneer Scholar Sannivas
Pioneer Scholar Sannivas, from Bangalore, India, has known what he loves since middle school. Mathematics is his field. He loves the problem-solving aspect of mathematics, and the fact that it isn’t just “direct learning from a teacher.” It requires a reliance on logic and intuition and “your own ability to think.”
Sannivas applied his logic and thinking skills to both the decision to participate in the Pioneer Research Program, and the original mathematical research he did for his program. He chose the Pioneer Research Program for two logical reasons. The first was to test whether his interest in mathematics would extend to the kind of mathematical research that he would be doing if he continued on to Ph.D. studies. The opportunity to try his hand at serious research while still a high school student would give him valuable information to help him make wise decisions later in life. The second reason for choosing Pioneer was the opportunity to study with a professor who was a leader in the field without having to spend the summer term overseas. Working entirely online allowed Sannivas to pursue his educational goals while meeting obligations at home.
Sannivas wound up learning a great deal more than just the material required for his research and paper writing. He learned how to ask questions, how to set realistic goals when finding a research topic, how to prepare to write a research paper. Above all, he learned “more about mathematics in general from a person who’s had a lot more experience than I do at this point.”
Sannivas and his cohort of peers were hesitant to ask questions at first, but quickly learned that asking questions was the best way to build a mentoring relationship with the professor. And the discussions that stemmed from the questions also allowed them to learn from one another.
When Sannivas began to develop his research topic, he had a revelation. The first few ideas he presented to his professor were far beyond his ability at the moment. Sannivas is eloquent about what he learned through this experience. “What I realized was instead of going deeper, you can also increase the breadth of a research paper and figure out a new topic or a new avenue to explore which hasn’t been done before. That’s still new research, and it doesn’t have to be as complex or involving ideas which you don’t completely understand.”
When it came time to do his actual research and write the paper, Sannivas again took a thoughtful, logical approach. He followed what is now his advice to new Pioneer Scholars. “The best kind of planning I would recommend is reading, reading and reading.” That way, when it comes time to write, “having the tools you need to write the paper helps you focus on the paper and the actual content.”
Sannivas included his Pioneer research experience in all his college applications, knowing that Pioneer’s credibility would make his work stand out. He will begin his freshman year at Brown University this fall, and plans to major in mathematics.