Creighton junior Presley Kimball named 2022 Goldwater Scholar
Presley Kimball started college thinking she wanted to become a physician.
But during her Creighton career, Kimball discovered a passion for math that has already taken her far. And promises to take her further still.
Kimball, a junior double majoring in mathematics and Spanish, has been named one of Creighton’s two 2022 recipients of the Goldwater Scholarship. The federally funded award is one of the nation’s most prestigious academic awards for young scientists. This year, just 417 students were chosen from an initial pool of more than 5,000.
“I think the reason I like math so much is the problem-solving element. I love puzzles. There’s always a struggle in doing really hard math, and when you finally get the result, it’s really exciting,” Kimball says. “I love the applications in biology and chemistry. It’s just so versatile.”
Kimball is channeling her love of math into health care research, continuing a line of inquiry she began as an undergraduate researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University in the summer of 2021. Using differential equations, Kimball is mapping the progression of a tropical skin disease called yaws.
Using a mathematical model, Kimball evaluated the effectiveness of two different treatment strategies for the disease. Now working with Creighton’s Nathan Pennington, PhD, associate professor, Kimball is aiming to include the financial implications of treatment and combinations of treatments into her model.
She’s presented her findings at several conferences, including meetings of the Math Association of America and Joint Mathematics Meetings. Her research has also been published in PeerJ, a peer-reviewed journal, as “An ODE model of yaws elimination in Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea.”
After graduating from Creighton, Kimball hopes to pursue a PhD in applied mathematics with a particular focus on epidemiology.
“Within the math department, I feel that a lot of my professors have been so supportive,” Kimball says. “Before starting this, I wasn’t even planning on doing research originally, but one of my professors reached out and recommended that I try it with one of the other professors. The supportive community here has really been critical to my success and helped me explore new opportunities.”