Esther Vander Meulen, a fourth-year honours mathematics and French major, has been digging deeper into her curiosity for patterns and numbers this summer. With funding from NSERC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Esther has been exploring independent sets in double vertex graphs.
While the details of her research are difficult for the average non-mathematics major to understand, the applications of graphs can be seen in the underpinnings of our daily lives. They are commonly used in scheduling, road networks, Google page rank, sports team rankings and neuroscience.
Vander Meulen also sees the beauty in mathematics. “The logic and order of how things work together are awe-inducing,” she said. “Few things make me happier than trying to understand how a pattern works and where it comes from.”
As a part of her research, Vander Meulen presented a summary of her work at the Canadian Undergraduate Mathematics Conference (CUMC) at Queen’s University alongside 80 other mathematics students from across the nation. It served as an opportunity to meet with like-minded mathematics students and enthusiasts for a time of idea sharing and networking.
Through her studies at Redeemer, Vander Meulen’s understanding of and appreciation for mathematics have deepened. She has been able to learn how mathematics fits into the broader context of the world and her faith. She credits her course work and the passion her professors have for their subject matter with spurring her on in her studies.
“I find that studying the patterns and numbers that describe how our world works at a fundamental level gives me a glimpse at what God is like, how he’s so big and almighty and yet put so much small detail into the functioning of our world,” she reflected. “It amazes me how different areas of mathematics come together to describe the same thing in such different ways.”
Vander Meulen plans to pursue a master’s degree after she graduates from Redeemer. While she is still deciding what career path she will follow, she knows that she wants to use her skills and love for mathematics in the workforce.