Published: Sept. 24, 2020 By

Serena DiLeonardoThis past week, the Department of Applied Mathematics announced the recipient of the Rudy Horne Memorial Fellowship: graduate student Serena DiLeonardo!

Serena is a first year student in the Applied Mathematics graduate program who previously graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics along with a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science at the City University of New York. Serena’s lifelong passion for environmental studies pushed her to earn her Master’s Degree in the field and is currently driving her motivation for her graduate studies. Ms. DiLeonardo explained:

“During and after my graduate studies, I'm interested in tackling environmental problems with techniques in applied mathematics. I am a passionate environmentalist, and believe that environmental issues resulting from climate change affect every person on this planet, with the most vulnerable communities feeling the effects first, and disproportionately. My ultimate goal is to be a part of the movement toward a sustainable human society.”

The Rudy Horne Memorial Fellowship, as stated by the Applied Math Department, was founded with the hope that fellowship recipients “would, through their presence in the department, contribute to the diversity of the department of Applied Mathematics and of the campus, and more generally, of the community of mathematicians.” Serena commented on the privilege and duty that this fellowship comes with, saying: 

“I am touched to have been awarded this fellowship in the name of Rudy Horne. I very much look up to him and countless others who have overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve their dreams, while motivating others to do the same ....  This fellowship motivates me even further to work as hard as I can to be a voice and force for positive change by collaborating to come up with actionable solutions to some of the most pressing global issues.“

Now, starting a graduate program at a new university with a prestigious fellowship, Serena has new opportunities in the Department, which she comments on, saying that  “There are countless unanswered questions facing society right now requiring new and innovative solutions, and there is no doubt that a diverse group will be able to answer these questions more creatively.” Serena emphasizes that these diverse teams tackling important problems should include students of underrepresented backgrounds in STEM. More specifically, Serena expressed her desire to work with the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM): “I would love to work with AWM to achieve their goals of promoting diversity through outreach, attending conferences and cultural events. I very much would like to work toward increasing the number of underrepresented students in fields of sciences and technology.”

It’s the drive, determination, and genuineness of Serena’s desire to help others, in conjunction with her stellar applied math skills, that has earned her the Rudy Horne Fellowship. The Department congratulates Serena on being awarded a prestigious and well-deserved fellowship! We can’t wait to see what you do and where you go from here!