After three years of working as a software developer for Microsoft, Max Czapanskiy decided a desk job wasn’t for him. So he quit — and took a job studying seabirds on an island off the coast of Alaska.
Now Czapanskiy studies how wind patterns affect the movement of seabirds in Hawaii and is completing his master’s degree in Geographic Information Science. He’s currently preparing two publications based on his thesis research. “I love figuring out how systems work,” he said. And the ocean and its inhabitants are a system overflowing with questions.
Czapanskiy has won both the Maxwell Scholarship and the Graduate Writing Award at SF State, and twice worked as a teaching assistant in geographic information systems courses. He’s also become a mentor for younger students. “As I’ve transitioned from being a junior to a senior member of the lab, it’s been a pleasure passing on what I know to the newer students,” he said.
In the fall, he’ll start pursuing his Ph.D. at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, where he’ll study the movement of large whales.
Diane Christine Alar
Diane Christine Alar was interested in puzzles from an early age. That interest in problem-solving eventually led her to mathematical research.
Alar completed her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics (Advanced Study) in Fall 2017 after only seven semesters. While at SF State she worked on mathematics research with Professor of Mathematics Federico Ardila and also conducted two summers of research through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program, one at Iowa State University and the other at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. She’s written two publications based on her work.
As a woman in a field dominated by men, she also found a home in Mathematistas, a campus group for women and other gender minorities in the field of mathematics. “There aren’t a lot of people like me in mathematics research,” Alar said. She drew inspiration from that group and other programs that brought together students of color in mathematics, and she hopes that she’ll be able to create similar programs in her career as a mathematician.
Alar has been admitted to a Ph.D. program in Pure Mathematics at UC Santa Barbara, where she plans to study algebra and combinatorics.