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Mason Math PhD Student wins NSF-GRFP, another gets honorable mention

Congratulations to Anthony Pizzimenti, who was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and to Shrunal Pothagoni, who received an honorable mention. Both are advised by Mathematics assistant professor, Ben Schweinhart. To provide context, only one other person at Mason received the award this year, and only one other received an honorable mention.

The following is a summary of the work that Anthony Pizzimenti will be doing with the NSF funding.

Magnets, Computers, and Hyperspace

Since the late 1800s, physicists have relied on a revolutionary idea — the Ising model — to understand magnetism. Classically, the model asks questions about phase transitions, like water becoming steam: when do repeated, random modifications to a system force the entire system to spontaneously change? Usually these modifications are small, like adjusting a single atom’s properties or removing an atomic bond. My research focuses on a new approach to the Ising model that blends ideas from theoretical mathematics and statistics, letting us study the ripple effects of changing entire subsystems, all at once. In tandem with powerful algorithms, these tools provide fresh perspective on old questions and help ask new ones: do the shapes of the subsystems matter? What happens in dimensions beyond three?