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From Jakarta to Duluth in Pursuit of an Answer
Inne Singgih Masters DNA Sequencing and Graph Theory
Inne Singgih’s path to UMD began at the 2012 International Workshop on Graph Labelings, which was held in her home country of Indonesia. Singgih was able to present her undergraduate findings on DNA sequencing. Her thesis caught the attention of Dalibor Froncek, UMD mathematics professor, because she took an unusual approach to examining DNA.
Froncek was so interested by Singgih’s research, he asked her about her plans for graduate school. “I told him that I probably wasn’t going,” Singgih said. “I wouldn’t be able to afford it.” Froncek offered to help her find a place in a masters program at UMD, assuring her that it would work out.
Singgih arrived at UMD in fall 2013 and one year later, she is entering her final year of graduate school as the first recipient of the Elliott Scholarship in the Sciences. "The Elliott Scholarship helps me a lot," Singgih said. "It gives me the time to spend more time on my research." The scholarship was founded by Patricia and Richard Delano and Anne Lewis to honor Elliott John Bayly, a Duluthian who founded an innovative wind generator company in Duluth. The goal of the award program is to provide opportunities to students from developing countries in which women are at a disadvantage, empowering them through education to better lives and circumstances for themselves and others. Singgih is the first recipient to receive the award.
Singgih wants to go on for a doctorate in graph theory and continue her work in DNA sequencing. Graph labeling is a mathematical discipline of graph theory closely related to the field of computer science. Her work takes the chemical process of DNA sequencing, breaks it into tiny pieces, and mathematically arranges the DNA strand. With a specialization so uncommon, Singgih isn’t looking for a graduate school, as much as she is “looking for the right professor.”
Teaching in Indonesia
After graduating with an undergraduate degree, Singgih worked in a school that specialized in the preparation of Math Olympians. Under Singgih’s tutelage, students were taken from a fundamental level to competitors in national and global mathematics competition. “We took children from the most primitive regions of the country, sometimes literally plucking them from trees, and educated them. We worked to prove that no children are stupid,” Singgih said.
One student was brought to the Math Olympians school when she was nine years old. Her schoolhouse had lacked educational supplies, and she could only count to five. After three years of intensive training with Singgih and her colleagues, she became a Math Olympian, winning a gold medal in an Indonesian event and a prestigious silver in a China-hosted global competition.
Work and Study
Singgih's work teaching Math Olympians transferred nicely to an opportunity as a teaching assistant (TA) for undergraduate math courses at UMD. She shares an office with other TAs and spends much of her day there. “There’s so much to do, sometimes I can’t tell time while I’m busy. I look at the clock, and it is suddenly midnight.” Time seems to move differently in her office. “It can be like we’re in our own world. An officemate will be trying to get my attention, and I won’t even hear him — I am so absorbed in working on a problem.” When she isn’t teaching or studying, Singgih teaches herself Japanese by watching anime.
Even though she’s halfway around the world, Singgih feels at home at UMD. Though she isn't used to the cold yet. “I picked a cold, cold winter for my first year in Minnesota,” she lamented. “Hopefully we don’t have another one of those.”
More About the Elliott Scholarship
The Elliott Scholarship for the Sciences was created to honor loved ones who have a connection to the Elliott family. Elliott John Bayly, Anne's husband and Patty's brother is remembered for his passion for wind energy, his interest in engineering and the sciences and his encouragement and mentorship of women. Patty and Anne want to honor their mothers, Elizabeth Jane (Elliott) Bayly and Eleanor Lewis who were remarkable, strong women and indelible role models, empowering their daughters to become strong and confident women. Sadie Jane Wasmer, Jane Bayly's great-granddaughter seemed to reflect the influence of her great-grandmother's character during her short life; she remained happy and courageous throughout her struggle with biliary atresia, charming all who knew her with her bright blue eyes and contagious smile. It is in the intention of the donors that this scholarship will be used to provide opportunities to students from developing countries in which women are at a disadvantage, empowering them through education to better lives and circumstances for themselves and others.
Those who can, seek new frontiers.