Prizes and Awards in Mathematics

Olga Taussky-Todd Prize

Professor Taussky-Todd was a pioneer in computer science and algebraic number theory.  She was also the first woman to receive a full professorship at Caltech and advised the Institute's first female Ph.D. in Mathematics. This prize provides support to an undergraduate math major, with preference given to those who identify as female, for a summer experience to enrich their mathematical education.

Nomination Process: This award requires an application and proposal. Information about the application process is available here.

The Robert P. Balles Caltech Mathematics Scholars Award

The Robert P. Balles Caltech Mathematics Scholars Award was established in 2005 by Robert P. Balles, a friend of the California Institute of Technology and a supporter of the study of mathematics. The Balles Award is given to the mathematics major entering his/her senior year who has demonstrated the most outstanding performance in mathematics courses completed in the student's first three years at Caltech. 

Nomination Process: This award is determined by the department and does not require nominations.

The Eric Temple Bell Undergraduate Mathematics Research Prize

In 1963 the department of mathematics established this prize honoring the memory of Professor Eric Temple Bell and his illustrious career as a research mathematician, teacher, author, and scholar.  It is awarded to one or more juniors or seniors for the best original research paper in mathematics. Contestants for the Bell Prize must be nominated by a faculty member familiar with their work. Students who wish to be considered for this prize should contact a member of the Mathematics faculty prior to the end of the second term to discuss the nature of the research. If the entry is sufficiently worthy, the faculty member will nominate the contestant and act as sponsor. The awards committee may award duplicate prizes in case of more than one outstanding entry. 

Nomination Process: This award requires collaboration between a faculty member and student. Submissions, to Meagan Heirwegh, will be accepted until April 23, 2018 at noon.

William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is an annual mathematics competition for undergraduate college students enrolled at institutions of higher learning in the United States and Canada (regardless of the students' nationalities). It is widely considered to be the most prestigious university-level mathematics examination in the world, and its difficulty is such that the median score is often zero or one (out of 120) despite being attempted by students specializing in mathematics. The competition was founded in 1927 by Elizabeth Lowell Putnam in memory of her husband William Lowell Putnam, who was an advocate of intercollegiate intellectual competition. The exam has been offered annually since 1938 and is administered by the Mathematical Association of America. For information about registering for this year's competition, please refer to the Putnam page here.

Nomination Process: Students that have done exceptionally well weill be recognized by organizers of the Putnam competition who award cash prizes to the highest scoring individuals and teams.

H. J. Ryser Scholarships

The H. J. Ryser Scholarships were established in 1986 in memory of H. J. Ryser, who was professor of mathematics at Caltech from 1967 to 1985. Professor Ryser contributed greatly to combinatorial mathematics and inspired many students with his carefully planned courses. It is awarded to undergraduate students for academic excellence.

Nomination Process: The winner of this scholarship is determined by the department and does not require nominations.

The Morgan Ward Prize

The Morgan Ward Prize was established by the Department of Mathematics in 1963 to honor the memory of Professor Morgan Ward in recognition of his long service to mathematics and to the Institute.  The competition is open to all freshmen and sophomores, regardless of major.  An entry consists of a mathematical problem together with a solution or a significant contribution toward a solution. An entry may be individual (submitted by one student) or joint (submitted by a group of two or more students). Each student is entitled to at most three entries, of which two may be individual. The problem may have any source, but this source should be stated in the entry. The entries may be judged on the basis of the nature of the problem, originality and elegance of the solution. Any outside references used should be indicated. The name of the contestant, or the names of all participants in the case of a joint entry, must be written on the envelope only, not on the entry. 

Nomination Process: This prize requires a submission by a student or group of students. Submissions, to Meagan Heirwegh, will be accepted until April 23, 2018 at noon.

Fredrick J. Zeigler Memorial Award

The Fredrick J. Zeigler Memorial Award was established in 1989 to honor Fredrick J. Zeigler, a member of the class of 1976 and a mathematics and/or an applied mathematics major. The award recognizes excellence in scholarship as demonstrated in class activities or in the preparation of an original paper or essay in any subject area.

Nomination Process: The winner of this award is determined by the department and does not require nomination.

Scott Russell Johnson Achievement Awards

The Scott Russell Johnson Achievement awards were established in 2001 by Steve and Rosemarie Johnson in memory of Steve's brother Scott who graduated in Math from Caltech in 1983.

The Scott Russell Johnson Prize for Excellence in Graduate Study is given to continuing graduate students for extraordinary progress in research and excellence in teaching, or excellent performance as a first-year graduate student. The Scott Russell Johnson Graduate Dissertation Prize in Mathematics is awarded for the best graduate dissertation in mathematics. The Scott Russell Johnson Undergraduate Mathematics Prize is given to the best graduating mathematics major. Special consideration is given to independent research done as a senior thesis or SURF project.

Nomination Process: Nominations for the graduate awards will be accepted from student and faculty until April 23, 2018. Please send any nominations to Mika Walton. The undergraduate award is determined by the department and does not require nomination.

The Apostol Award for Excellence in Teaching in Mathematics

For over fifty years, Tom Apostol has represented great math teaching at Caltech. In 2010 the mathematics option at Caltech set up the Apostol Teaching Awards to recognize excellence in teaching by our graduate teachers.

Nomination Process: Nominations for this award will accepted from students and faculty until April 23, 2018. Please send any nominations to Mika Walton.