Proving Them Wrong, One Award at a Time

Luke Martin ('23)
May 02, 2023
Hunter Hauser ('23) | Marketing & Communications

Studies: Computer science and mathematics

Hometown: Rufus, Oregon

Due to his outstanding work in computer science and mathematics, Luke Martin (‘23) received the Outstanding Senior in computer science, Outstanding Senior in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Carsrud Award for exceptional math student.

“I did not know these awards were a thing until a couple weeks ago,” Luke says. “I have always strived to do my absolute best — that is just who I am — and I ended up getting these awards because of my hard work.”

Luke came from a small rural hometown called Rufus, Oregon, with a population of about 270. Each year he worked on his family farm, herding cattle, picking rocks from the fields, and pulling garlic. His graduating class at Sherman County high school had 20 students.

“There were absolutely no technical electives as far as computers and for math all that was offered was online calculus, and I was the only person taking it my junior year,” said Luke.

He was looking for that small classroom feel in a college experience and found Gonzaga to be the perfect fit.

Here, he has been able to explore his passions through research. During his Abstract Algebra course, he met Professor Tom McKenzie, who opened a new door in mathematics for him.

“One day, after class, he approached me and asked if I had a research project on which he could be included. We worked together on a problem, and it immediately became clear to me that he is an exceptional student,” McKenzie says. “In fact, I told Dr. Shannon Overbay that we should involve Luke in a research project on graph theory and computer science we were studying.”

Luke eagerly began the study of vertices and edges in different graphs. and won Best Presentation for Mobius Book Embeddings at the Pacific Inland Mathematics Undergraduate Conference in 2022.

Luke's success is not only derived from his mathematical ability, but the other skills he brings to the table.

“Where he really excels is in his ability to create visual images and animations to bring the theory to life,” says Overbay, one of the professors working on the research with him. “One application of our book embeddings project is delivery systems. Luke created amazing animations illustrating each type of book.”

Last summer, Luke attended a research experience for undergraduates (REU) at Texas State University where he further researched algebra and developed three papers.

Beyond the classroom and studies, Luke has been active in his community.

On weekends he tutors students from Spokane Public Schools in a Gonzaga-led student math outreach program. He also works in the Gonzaga math lab, helping peers.

In addition, Luke has been a grader for Gina Sprint, associate professor of computer science, and a teacher’s assistant for Richard Cangelosi, associate professor of mathematics.

Recently Luke has committed to mathematics graduate school at the University of Kentucky and will continue his math research.

“When I went to college I came from a small school where I had a lot of success, everyone told me to not expect that level of success at college,” said Luke. “Expect to be very average.” 

He proved them all wrong, one award at a time.

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