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ODU Math Students Shine in Putnam Competition

For the second year in a row, Old Dominion University mathematics student Kevin Kordek has scored in the top 14 percent of undergraduates in the United States and Canada who entered the grueling Putnam Math Competition. ODU's three-person team of seniors, including Kordek, finished 86th out of 405 teams in the competition.

Kordek scored 21 points on the Putnam exam given in December, one point better than he did on the previous year's test. The Putnam competition is six hours of frustration for most participants; around three-fourths of the undergraduates who sit for it each year score no points. Close to 3,700 students took the latest test.

Daniel Wallis scored 12 points, placing him in the top 24 percent, and Katherine Sammons scored 1 point, which is the median score.

Mark Dorrepaal, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, praised not only the students, but also Richard Noren, an associate professor in the department who prepared the team for the challenge. "The test is well-known for its very difficult questions, which require detailed, handwritten solutions," Dorrepaal said.

"I want to publicly congratulate our team," Dorrepaal said. Added Noren: "I am very proud of all three of our team members, Kevin, Dan and Katie."

Carol Simpson, the ODU provost, and Chris Platsoucas, the dean of the College of Sciences, also sent congratulations to the team.

"This is a great achievement for the department and reflects very well on ODU as a whole," said Simpson.

Platsoucas noted the accomplishment of the students and their coach, and also praised Dorrepaal for "providing the environment for their success." ODU was ranked 81st among United States research universities in the National Science Foundation's latest (2007) tally of research and development expenditures in mathematics.

This article was posted on: March 30, 2009

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