2018 Churchill Scholar

Scott Neville receives Utah's third straight Churchill Scholarship.

Scott Neville of Clearfield, Utah, who graduated from the University of Utah in December with a degree in mathematics and in computer science, has received a prestigious Churchill Scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

He is one of only 15 students in the U.S. to receive the award this year and is the third Churchill Scholar from the U, all of whom are mathematicians.

“Having three Churchill scholars in the last four years is truly remarkable,” said Ruth Watkins, president of the University of Utah. “There is no doubt that Scott will continue to successfully represent the U at Cambridge.”

Neville was drawn to math when he was introduced to the Collatz Conjecture in high school.

“The conjecture is interesting for its simplicity and difficulty, as well as its lack of consequence,” said Neville. “I proved via enumeration and equation manipulation that there was only one cycle with exactly one odd number, and none with exactly two odd numbers. This was a known result, but I was ecstatic. I realized there were unsolved problems in math and I could answer them.”

Neville enrolled at the U because he was already involved in an applied mathematics project with professor Duncan Metcalfe in the Anthropology department. The objective was to investigate infeasible years in radiocarbon dating. The work was funded by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

“This was a good learning experience in both research and communicating mathematics, since the senior researcher had only passing familiarity with the math involved,” says Neville.

The project resulted in a poster given at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in 2016.

“In addition, I knew the U had a rigorous mathematics and computer science program, but I hadn’t actually met any of those professors,” says Neville.

While attending the U, Neville presented his work in Japan, completed advanced courses in modern algebra and number theory, and took second place in the ASFM national collegiate mathematics championship in 2017. He also has co-authored three publications with university faculty.

Neville credits many U faculty for helping him through his undergraduate career. Suresh VenkatasubramanianTommaso de Fernex,Duncan MetcalfeArjun KrishnanAditya BhaskaraPeter Trapaand Gordan Savin were each instrumental in helping him with research, presentations, course work and advising.

Neville aspires to become a professor at a research university so he can continue working on math and sharing it with others.

“I want to give back to a community that’s given so much to me. I want to continue learning and pushing the limits of what mathematics, and hence humanity, can do,” said Neville.

The Churchill Scholarship, established in 1963 at the request of Winston Churchill, provides undergraduates with outstanding academic achievement in the science, technology, engineering and math fields the opportunity to complete a one-year Master’s program at the University of Cambridge. The award is worth about $60,000 in U.S. dollars, depending on the exchange rate.

Candidates go through a rigorous endorsement process in order to apply, but only after their home institution has been vetted with the Winston Churchill Foundation. The U was added to the Foundation in spring 2014.

The Churchill Scholarship has been called “the most academically challenging of the U.K. scholarships.”

Neville will begin his studies at Cambridge in October 2018.