Putnam 2009: Meet the Team

January 31, 2010

Putnam team 2009: clockwise from left: Misha Lavrov, Peng Shi, Matt Rognlie

Putnam team 2009: clockwise from left: Misha Lavrov, Peng Shi, Matt Rognlie. Photo illustration by Jon Gardiner and Bill Snead

The 2009 William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition took place on December 5. Duke's three-person team included one returning team member and two past individual participants. The results of the competition will be announced in the spring.

Misha Lavrov, a junior from Cary, North Carolina, is a math major. As a first-year student, he was awarded the math department's Freshman Julia Dale Prize for Excellence in Mathematics. He was not selected as a team member for the 2008 Putnam competition, but his individual score placed him among the top 2 percent of all participants.

Matt Rognlie, a senior from West Linn, Oregon, is a math and economics double-major with a minor in computer science. He is president of the Duke University Math Union and, this past October, was one of three students named a Faculty Scholar, the highest award given to students by the faculty. Along with Peng Shi (see below) and another student, he was part of a team that won the highest designation of "outstanding" in the 2007 Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling. He also helped represent Duke at the World Finals of the 2008 and 2009 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contests in Banff, Alberta, Canada, and Stockholm, Sweden. Rognlie has been active in economics and computer-science research at Duke and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in economics.

Peng Shi, a senior from Toronto, is a computer science and mathematics major with a minor in economics. In high school, he placed third in North America in the 2005 USA Mathematical Olympiad, won silver medals in the 2005 and 2006 International Mathematical Olympiad, and won a silver medal in the 2006 International Olympiad in Informatics. An A.B. Duke Scholar, he was on the team that earned "outstanding" honors in the 2007 Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling and was part of the three-person team representing Duke at the World Finals of the 2007 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest in Tokyo. In 2007, he was on the Duke team that finished fifth in the Putnam competition.