President's Report

Amanda Bienz '12 receives NFS research grant for doctoral studies

A mathematics and computer science double major from Angola, Ind., Amamda Bienz ’12 knew in the fourth grade she wanted a career involving computers, and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship will assist her as she begins a doctoral program in scientific computing this fall at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Bienz will receive a $30,000 annual stipend for three years, plus the cost of tuition – one of 2,000 such grants distributed by the NSF. She will work with large-scale computers for complex modeling, which builds upon her initial experience with scientific computing through undergraduate research of “magic polygons.”

She twice participated in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program through the NSF. As part of one such program at Clemson University, she helped create the language processing for a virtual patient that helps train nursing students. During her Elon studies, Bienz also created a mobile application to assist children with learning disabilities and a GPS program, “Bread Crumbs,” that allows users to backtrack along routes.

“I like the problem-solving aspect to (programming),” Bienz says. “I’m very left-brained. And I’ve always liked math and was going to minor in it, but I came in with some credits and found out I only needed to take a few more classes for a major.”

Joel Hollingsworth, chair of the Department of Computing Sciences, praises Bienz’s work ethic and says she represents a growing trend of highly talented women in a field traditionally dominated by men. 

“This shows we produce students who are able to go out and win these awards,” he says. “Amanda is creating a trail for other students who can now follow her and do similar types of things.”