Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

After solving the mathematical equation behind the Rubik’s cube, Elisabeth Edwards ’04 (Belle Mead, N.J.) was inspired to crack other complex mathematical formulas.

This semester, she is using her math savvy to solve problems that may advance the field of cryptography, the process of deciphering or communicating in code. Under the guidance of Chawne Kimber, assistant professor of mathematics, Edwards is conducting an intensive study of abstract mathematical objects and graph theory.

A recipient of several teaching awards and fellowships, Kimber has shared her research in numerous publications and given presentations throughout the United States. She is a seminar director for the Summer Undergraduate Mathematical Sciences Research Institute funded by the National Science Foundation and National Security Agency.

“It’s not like normal algebra,” says Edwards, a mathematics major. “It’s not concrete at all and is very different from anything I’ve ever done before.”

Kimber explains that Edwards’ work has “real-life” applications in cryptography, particularly computer security.

“She’s a very hard worker, she’s very creative, and she enjoys solving puzzles,” says Kimber. “The Rubik’s cube totally motivated her to solve the problems.”

Edwards came to Lafayette as a psychology major, but after taking Calculus I with Kimber, she quickly realized her natural math abilities.

“The impact of Professor Kimber and the other math professors prompted me to choose math as my major,” says Edwards, who is planning to continue her research next year in a senior honors thesis. “I found out that I really do love it.”

Edwards plans to study math at the graduate level and hopes to become a professor. She says the one-on-one attention received at Lafayette from Kimber and other professors was a driving force behind the goal.

“Lafayette is a wonderful place for a math major,” she says. “The small-school atmosphere is very conducive to learning. The professors want students to learn and succeed.”

A member of the swimming and diving team, Edwards serves as a mathematics teaching assistant and an Academic Resource Center tutor. Through the Landis Community Outreach Center, Edwards coordinates the Third Street Alliance arts and crafts activities and Equi-librium, a therapy program for children with physical, mental, and emotional challenges. She is philanthropy coordinator for Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.

Categorized in: Academic News