Jared Duker Lichtman ’18 Named Churchill Scholar

The math major will study at Cambridge University next year.

Jared Duker Lichtman ’18 has received a Churchill Scholarship to study mathematics at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge.

The Churchill Scholarship—established in the 1950s by Winston Churchill to advance scientific exchange between the United States and the United Kingdom, and administered by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States—annually funds 15 American students nominated from 110 participating U.S. institutions for a year of master’s-level study in a STEM field. Lichtman, a math major and physics minor from Bethesda, Md., is the ninth Dartmouth student to receive the honor, and the first since 2005, when it went to Patrick Ward ’05.

 “Jared Duker Lichtman is a gifted math student, but more importantly, he has a driving intellectual curiosity that pushes him to explore deeper challenges and exemplifies the power of a liberal arts education,” says Interim Provost David Kotz ’86. “I’m proud of Jared and delighted that the Churchill Foundation has given him this recognition.”

Learning that he had received the scholarship took a while to sink in, Lichtman says. “I had heard of the scholarship my sophomore year, and I knew this would be the kind of opportunity I would be interested in pursuing. But this is just such a low-probability kind of thing—you don’t want to get your hopes up too high. So when I was actually notified I was just in shock.”

Lichtman speaks a lot about serendipity in his academic career. He credits “fantastic teachers” in his magnet high school with instilling in him a love for math and science. And in his first year at Dartmouth, he was selected as an inaugural Jack Byrne Scholar—a competitive program in the math department that funds applied math projects. That scholarship provided “a lot of freedom,” he says, including travel to national conferences.

Perhaps his most significant serendipitous encounter was with Carl Pomerance, a professor emeritus of mathematics with whom Lichtman took a probability class in the spring of his first year—the last course Pomerance taught at Dartmouth before retiring.

“He was just this amazing professor,” Lichtman says. He approached Pomerance to ask if they could work on a research project together, and despite his imminent retirement, the professor agreed.

To date, their collaboration has led to, among other things, two accepted papers on analytic number theory—a specialization Lichtman says he had to “learn on the job.” The first project assessed the accuracy of the Fermat Primality Test, used to find very large prime numbers, and the second built on questions raised by the first.

“That kind of development from one project to the next, where loose ends in one project lead to the next problem, is pretty characteristic of how research is done,” Lichtman says. “Maintaining that thread is something I really enjoy—there’s this line of continuity that you can kind of see. There’s something satisfying about that. You can really retrace your steps and see how far you’ve come.” 

Pomerance also served as Lichtman’s honors thesis adviser. “Since I met Jared in his freshman year, what distinguished him was his fearless enthusiasm,” Pomerance says. “I would never have tried to make headway on our joint projects without him, but we were successful, and now they have appeared in two very fine journals. Just recently he had a terrific insight on his solo project based on his honors thesis. It has been a pleasure working with Jared and I wish him the best in his graduate career and beyond.”

Lichtman, who completed his bachelor’s degree this fall and is now working toward a master’s degree in the department, ultimately plans to pursue a PhD in mathematics. “I want to pursue an academic position to do research, and maybe take on students of my own and do what Carl has done for me,” he says.

As a Churchill Scholar, he’s looking forward to exploring how math is taught in the U.K. “They’re bound to have a different take on how to do mathematics. It all goes into helping me get a different sense of what’s out there,” he says.

“I just want to say how grateful I am for not only everything that’s happened at Dartmouth, but for the Churchill program to have picked me. This is a great opportunity, and one that I’m not going to take lightly.”

Assistant Dean for Scholarship Advising Jessica Smolin encourages students interested in learning about the Churchill and other scholarships to visit Dartmouth’s Office of Fellowship Advising.

Hannah Silverstein can be reached at hannah.silverstein@dartmouth.edu.