Gene Katsevich '14
The first time Gene Katsevich came to campus he was in ninth grade and competing in the Princeton University Math Competition (PUMAC), an annual open high school math meet run by Princeton math concentrators. “Wow,” he thought as he looked at the Gothic architecture around him. “This place is just like a castle.”
A few years later, Katsevich found himself attending Princeton, and instead of competing in PUMAC, he was playing the role of “Problem Czar,” overseeing problem-writing for the competition.
Katsevich, a prospective math concentrator, has competed in math competitions since the sixth grade and made it to a prestigious summer program by doing well on the USAMO (the United States of America Mathematical Olympiad). He had an early introduction to math – his father, a Russian émigré, is an applied mathematics professor at the University of Central Florida. They speak Russian at home, and Katsevich often speaks Russian with his Wilson College neighbor, who took the introductory Russian sequence during freshman year. Katsevich placed out of the University’s language requirement with AP German.
By studying over the summer, Katsevich was able to place out of introductory math courses, as well, and began in advanced classes during his first year: “Analysis in Several Variables” and “Introduction to Differential Geometry.”
He found college math a marked change from high school: “Proofs are not something you’ve been taught in high school; it’s a rude awakening for many people. They’re not computations,” he says. In addition to math, he developed an interest in computer science. “It was just a fantastic course,” he says of “General Computer Science.” He says the programming assignments for that course were very exciting and found himself eagerly awaiting the next programming assignment. In second semester he took “Introduction to Programming Systems” and is interested in pursuing a certificate.
Apart from math and science courses, Katsevich took “Language and Cognition,” a freshman seminar with Adele Goldberg who is a linguistics professor in the Council of the Humanities. “There is a lot to be learned outside of my comfort zone,” he says.
At Princeton, Katsevich has continued his participation in sports through intramural beach volleyball, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee. “I was brought up with the philosophy that playing sports every day was a key factor in health and well-being.” He also spends time playing table tennis in Wilcox, Wilson College.
On the advice of his RCA, he and his hall mates organized the Dodge-Osborn Cup, a ping-pong tournament that drew 16 competitors and featured a DJ, Katsevich as an announcer, and refreshments. Though a sprained ankle took him out of competition for the Final Showdown of the event, he joined with dozens of spectators to watch and announce the last match, which was covered by The Princetonian. “I was very pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the residential community. It’s almost like a family.”
Katsevich plans to study math at the graduate level, and is leaning toward applied math. “It appeals to me to apply math to an important field of research such as medical imaging,” he says.