# Newsroom

## Students Share Math Award

*December 9, 2005*

David Collins, a senior philosophy/mathematics major from Bakersfield, and Patrick Dixon, a senior mathematics major from San Rafael, N.M., are recipients of Occidental College’s 2005 Benedict J. Freedman Prize for Mathematical Promise. Collins, who also won the award in 2004, is being recognized for his work on a branch of mathematics known as combinatorial game theory; Dixon for his studies in applied mathematics.

The prize is awarded to a junior or senior Occidental student who has demonstrated exceptional mathematical promise through original research or scholarship in a mathematical science. Collins and Dixon will split the $500 prize. Both will give presentations on their research next semester. The students were selected for the Freedman Prize by a committee of Occidental mathematics faculty. The award was established by the family of Benedict Freedman, professor emeritus of mathematics.

Collins’ research – combinatorial game theory – considers simple contests, such as Tic-Tac-Toe, played between two players. Mathematicians analyzing a competition attempt to find – given any position in the game – which player will win and how, provided both players are competing at their highest potential. Findings lead to a winning strategy. Collins’ development of a winning strategy for the number game Euclid was published in INTEGERS, the Electronic Journal of Combinatorial Number Theory. Collins recently won a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, given to students intending to pursue careers in math, science and engineering fields.

Dixon’s interest lies in using math to model biological phenomena, from the small scale, such as growth of bones and tumors, to the large scale, such as epidemiology and population dynamics. Such research could help determine which sectors of a population should be vaccinated again avian flu, for example, in hopes of warding off a pandemic. Dixon wants to work in public health policy. He recently won a Marshall Scholarship, which will allow him to pursue postgraduate studies in Great Britain next fall.