The Algorithm of Mentorship

Corina Putinar and Jesús De Loera

Corina Putinar

Major: Computer Science

Jesús De Loera

Professor and Vice-Chair of Undergraduate Affairs, Mathematics

Impact: Instead of fearing math, students learn how to use it as a tool to improve the world.

Learn more about Jesús De Loera’s research, courses and mentoring.

Without math, we would be less protected, less informed and literally lost.

Math makes possible Internet security, Google searches and GPS technology. Yet many people fear it, mathematics professor Jesús De Loera says.

“They only learn the most boring aspects in school, never seeing its playful, inquisitive elements,” he says. “They never learn its relevance and beauty.”

De Loera uses math to find the best way to solve real-world problems — research called optimization — and encourages students like Corina Putinar to experiment with new forms of research.

After taking a linear algebra class from De Loera in her second year, Putinar joined his undergraduate research team. Under his mentorship, she’s grown passionate about being on the front line of problem solving and applying new algorithms to continually improve solutions.

The senior computer science major from Santa Barbara credits De Loera with inspiring her to get more involved with math events, including the UC Davis Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference, where she presented a research paper last year.

“Professor De Loera is a mentor to me because he is passionate about his research, mathematics and the applications of mathematics,” Putinar says.

De Loera describes Putinar as dedicated, enthusiastic and positive — a great communicator and team player.

Now, both say they want to encourage others. For Putinar, that means showing fellow undergraduate students the value of pursuing research and leadership positions on top of their normal class load.

For his part, De Loera is interested in educating more women and minority groups in math to ensure a healthy economic future for California.

“As great as I think my books and research publications are, I am even more proud of the many students I have trained and influenced,” he says.

On the home page: UC Davis mathematics professor Jesús De Loera mentors senior Corina Putinar. After graduation, Putinar plans to pursue a career that melds her technical and theoretical skills in mathematics and computer science.