Amanda Verga ’24—a recent Trinity graduate from Gloucester, Massachusetts, who majored in mathematics—has received a Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to pursue a master’s degree.

Amanda Verga ’24 SMART Scholarship
Amanda Verga ’24

The scholarship-for-service program is a combined educational and workforce development opportunity for STEM students at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels. Scholarship recipients receive full tuition, annual stipends, internships at DoD facilities, and guaranteed employment with the DoD after graduation.

Verga will begin a graduate program in applied mathematics and statistics this fall at Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering. “I’m really excited to do my master’s at Johns Hopkins because of the extensive coursework options they have as a large research institution,” she said. “I’m also able to take some classes in related fields, which gives me a chance to get a more well-rounded math background.”

After her first year in graduate school, Verga will have a summer internship in Florida with the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Panama City Division in the Subsea and Seabed Warfare and Maritime Operations Department. She will then continue working at that Naval research facility for two years after she completes her degree, which the scholarship funds.

“I was interested in a scholarship that would allow me to prioritize my academics and also start my career,” Verga said. “I have always been open to working in the government, and I knew I wanted to work as a researcher. With this scholarship, once I start working, I’ll be in a research position where I’m actively solving problems that are of interest to the nation.”

Verga said she chose to study math because she sees it as the foundation of many different subjects. “In any other science or STEM field, you need to use math,” she said. “I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of what was going on in the background of all these other areas.”

Amanda Verga ’24 SMART Scholarship
Amanda Verga ’24 at the SACNAS National Diversity in STEM conference in Portland, Oregon, October 2023.

After initially attending Lawrence University in Wisconsin, Verga transferred to Trinity for her junior and senior years. “I transferred for the academic freedom and to be part of a collaborative community,” Verga said. “I was able to work directly with professors who’ve helped shape my research interests.”

While at Trinity, Verga worked as a grader for the Mathematics Department and completed an independent study with Assistant Professor of Mathematics Lori D. Watson. “Amanda worked very hard to earn her SMART Scholarship, and I am very glad she was successful,” Watson said.

In addition to her studies at Trinity, Verga completed two Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). During one summer at Brown University’s Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics, she helped to conduct research and write the paper, “On Flattened Parking Functions,” which was published and presented at a research conference. During the SMALL REU at Williams College, she was involved in two research projects on topics in analytic number theory and probability theory. The resulting papers have been accepted by journals and presented at conferences.

After she completes her master’s degree and the work related to the SMART Scholarship, Verga said she would consider continuing her career in the DoD as a researcher. “I love problem solving when conducting research and want to continue working in a similar environment,” she said.

Learn more about the SMART Scholarship here.