Georgia Corbett '24 dances with Bucknell Dance Company

Georgia Corbett ’24, Mathematics

December 17, 2021

In addition to a stellar math program, Georgia Corbett '24 was looking for a school where she could nurture her lifelong passion for dance. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

Choosing a college with a great math program as well as a great dance program — and the flexibility to let me do both — was really important. Bucknell has the best of both.

Ingenuity, imagination and inspiration may not be what come to mind when the average person thinks of a mathematical equation. But for Georgia Corbett '24, the more abstract the problem, the more creative the solution.

"I'm the kind of person who loves thinking in abstract ways," she says. "The fact that there's so much left to be explored and so many unanswered questions within the field of math has always piqued my curiosity."

It's a fascination that sparked in Corbett's elementary and middle school classes, where she showed a natural knack for concepts like long division, expressions and the Pythagorean theorem. As she waded into the formulas and theorems of calculus and trigonometry in high school, Corbett was energized by how the increasing complexities required both critical and creative approaches.

Now as a math major at Bucknell, the Niantic, Conn., native is honing both of those skills in courses that plunge her deeper into the vastness of mathematics.

"In one of my first courses at Bucknell, I was blown away by how a professor explained infinity — a concept I thought I'd already grasped," she says. "You're taught to think about infinity just as this really big number, but it turns out that there are infinitely many infinities, and they vary in size."

These types of mind-bending discoveries haven't been confined to classroom lectures and study-space whiteboards. In 2021, Corbett secured funding through the National Science Foundation to conduct theoretical math research at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. For eight weeks during the summer, Corbett worked alongside expert faculty and undergraduates from across the country on complex calculations involving matrices, numerical ranges and a high-level mathematical concept called the Hardy space.

The computational details of the project were an immense challenge to crack and are even tougher to explain — which presented the perfect intellectual challenge for Corbett.

"This kind of theoretical math produces puzzles that aren't solved intuitively, and that's what I really love about it," she says. "When you finally understand something, it's more rewarding to know that you worked hard for it."

 

Georgia Corbett '24 poses outdoors

In 2021, Corbett secured funding through the National Science Foundation to conduct theoretical math research at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

A Balanced Equation

Like most students seeking a well-rounded college experience, a stimulating major wasn't the only factor in Corbett's formula for choosing Bucknell. She also wanted to attend a school where she'd have the space and time to nurture her lifelong passion for dance.

"I was part of a dance studio growing up and fell in love with ballet at a young age," she says. "Choosing a college with a great math program as well as a great dance program — and the flexibility to let me do both — was really important. Bucknell has the best of both."

Corbett has danced with the Bucknell Dance Company since her first year, learning under the guidance of talented faculty and guest artists and performing in the Theatre & Dance Department's annual mainstage concerts. In an interesting contrast, what attracts Corbett to the rhythmic, embodied art form is what you might expect draws a mathematician to numbers: precision, discipline and the drive to produce a perfect result.

"You're constantly pushing your boundaries and trying to improve. It's so beautiful in that way," she says. "It creates a great escape from the stresses of everyday life, too. When I'm in the studio, I forget about assignments, tests and papers, and I'm just focused on the craft."

Between the accuracy she values in dance and the creativity that fuels her math interests lies an essential common thread: "the dedication and perseverance you need to succeed at both."

"It's been great to pursue school and dance simultaneously," she adds. "It's just enough that it keeps me involved, but it's not so much to where I'm falling behind in my classes. It's a perfect balance."

Question

What puzzles will you solve?