Graduates with an MS in applied mathematics and data science are breaking down barriers and taking on careers in STEM. One of them was advised in high school not to study science—and is now working in the Collider-Accelerator Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Like every graduate program at Adelphi, the MS in Applied Mathematics and Data Science program increases students’ knowledge and understanding while preparing them for career success. Since earning their degrees in May, Jennefer Maldonado ’20, MS ’22, and Eleni Zamagias ’21, MS ’22, have seen their careers take off with impressive new jobs.
Maldonado—who, as a high school student, was advised against majoring in mathematics or computer science in college—is a senior applications analyst for the controls group in Brookhaven National Laboratory’s collider-accelerator department, where she creates applications to help users control applications. “I also research how machine learning can be utilized in applications and for streamlining data analysis,” she reported.
Eleni Zamagias teaches introductory courses in computer programming and data science at St. Joseph’s University in Brooklyn, where she landed a spot as a teaching instructor. Excited to introduce her students to new concepts and applications, she said, “Seeing their excitement when they discover something new is extremely rewarding.”
Since Zamagias and Maldonado had also earned their Adelphi bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and computer science, Joshua Hiller, PhD, an assistant professor in the department, witnessed their academic progress over the past several years. “I’ve been fortunate enough to see both women become first-rate mathematicians and data scientists, and I’m excited for the future that lies before them,” he said.
According to Dr. Hiller, his department’s master’s degree program takes a personalized approach by tailoring courses to students’ career aspirations. “Because it’s a small cohort, we can offer specific electives to the students,” he explained. “And we offer either hands-on industrial or research experience opportunities. Eleni and Jen were just magnificent, hardworking, dedicated students who were always eager to learn and take advantage of the opportunities available to them.”
The Path to a Faculty Position
Eleni Zamagias recalled that professors such as Dr. Hiller were extremely supportive of her career direction. “He exposed me to research and the field of data science in the beginning of my undergraduate studies, which led me to apply for the MS program to begin with,” she said.
“From there, during my master’s year as a 4+1 student, Dr. Hiller helped me research possible job opportunities,” she continued. “He even helped me prepare for the questions I’d be asked in my St. Joseph’s job interview—and they were exactly the questions I was asked.”
Zamagias said her experience as a graduate assistant for Anil Venkatesh, PhD, assistant professor in the department of mathematics and computer science, gave her most of her knowledge of programming. It also gave her valuable teaching experience. So did her work as a tutor in Adelphi’s Learning Resource Program.
“I quickly learned that oftentimes what works for one student does not work for all, which is something I keep in mind to this day in my own classroom,” she explained.
Research as a Student Leads to a Position at Brookhaven
Reflecting on her time at Adelphi, Maldonado said, “The most important thing Adelphi provided me with in terms of my career was the mentorship given by my professors. I always had someone to talk with when I needed support. ”
“My courses helped me develop technical skills that I use in my career every day,” she added. “They gave me opportunities to conduct my own research, which was very helpful for finding internships.”
One of those internships was at the prestigious Brookhaven National Laboratory, where she worked alongside engineers at the National Synchrotron Light Source II, a nearly billion-dollar project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. “The experience showed me how welcoming the laboratory was as a whole,” she said. “I was able to participate in experiments, conferences and presentations that strengthened my skills. I learned that I wanted to work in a scientific environment to help further important experiments and hopefully do my part in improving science in general.”
She is doing just that in her new job at Brookhaven, providing users with the tools they need to interface with hardware and troubleshoot machines such as the lab’s cutting-edge relativistic heavy ion collider (RHIC).
As an Adelphi student, Maldonado worked to educate and empower women to enter STEM fields. She continues to do that at Brookhaven. “I’ve become the social media officer at Brookhaven Women in Science,” she said. “I help the organization by promoting talks and events to colleagues at the lab and to the public. I really hope to see more women in the field.”