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Past Winner
2013 NSERC André Hamer Postgraduate Prize

Christopher M. van Bommel

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

University of Victoria

Christopher M. van Bommel
Christopher M. van Bommel

Sudoku Is Just the Tip of Math Puzzle

Think Sudoku is difficult? An even greater puzzle for mathematicians is applying these “Latin squares” to the more complex grid structures required for futuristic breakthroughs in a wide range of areas, including computer science, biology and engineering.

Christopher M. van Bommel has seen how mathematics can change people’s lives for the better. As an undergraduate studying graph theory at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, he found time to hone his statistical skills while analyzing research into the physical activity and dietary intake of students in Nova Scotia. Findings from that project have since been incorporated into the province’s health policy.

Now, as the winner of a master’s level NSERC 2013 André Hamer Postgraduate Prize, van Bommel is addressing knowledge gaps in combinatorial design theory—a fundamental science that underpins the statistical experiments, algorithms and codes used to design puzzles, networks, cryptography, drug trials and even lotteries.

His long list of awards includes the 2013 Julie Payette-NSERC Research Scholarship, Dr. A. A. MacDonald Prize for Mathematics and the Governor General’s Academic Medal (Silver). He recently participated in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, an international event described as the Super Bowl of Mathematics, where he ranked an impressive 249th out of 4,200 competitors.