Meet Nick Layman, recipient of the 2022 Excellence in the Discipline Award
Nick is from Homer Glen, IL, near Chicago and attended Lockport Township High School. He started his journey at Grand Valley in 2018 as a math major and a scholar in the Retaining and Inspiring Students in Science and Engineering (RISE) program. Nick visited GVSU a few times while in high school when his older brother was at GVSU. The campus itself, the proximity of the campus to both the lake and the city while also being in a small town, and the fact that “everything felt so approachable” all attracted Nick to GVSU. The funding that was offered also helped finalize Nick’s decision to choose Grand Valley. When asked about how he chose the math major, Nick said that his interest in math was in part due to clearly defined rules and structures of the discipline, and in part due to the enjoyment of finding patterns and making connections between ideas. As to what he likes about the department, he says “I really like the use of alternative grading like mastery-based grading. At first it seemed kinda weird but now I really enjoy it.”
Nick is heading to Iowa State University to start a Ph.D. program in discrete mathematics, with the ultimate goal of becoming a mathematics researcher, possibly at a national lab. He is well-prepared to become a researcher; while at GVSU, Nick participated in many different research projects in which he explored mathematical topics, either individually or as part of a group, and made original contributions to the topic. He was involved in an independent study already during his second semester as a freshman. He was also a scholar in the GVSU McNair Program through which he completed intensive research projects during the summers and engaged in academic and career counseling and graduate school preparation training. Nick also completed a couple of senior projects and an Alayont Fellowship. During the current academic year, he has been a remote participant in the MICRO program at MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering in two different projects, using his skills in programming, topology and group theory to help improve the drug discovery process and predicting properties of certain crystals. His various projects so far have resulted in one publication, on the topic of guessing games, co-authored with Dr. David Clark; he has two other papers currently in preparation; multiple presentations including presenting during the Investiture Student Showcase in 2019 as part of President Philomena Mantella’s investiture events; and being the GV student speaker at the West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference in 2020.
Aside from his research projects, Nick also worked as a tutor and a grader for many mathematics courses on campus, and was involved in Math Circles and the Math Team in the department.
When asked about his tips for future/current mathematics majors, Nick said “Starting a task a bit earlier and moving a bit more slowly and deliberately will almost always yield better results. It’ll be less stressful too.”
Nick’s hobbies include going on walks while listening to podcasts or hanging out with friends. He adds “I’ve recently picked up woodworking as a nice creative outlet I’d like to continue doing in grad school.”
We congratulate Nick on his well-deserved success and accomplishments at Grand Valley, and wish him the best in his future graduate studies and life.