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Dean's Award: Kelly Christensen

Awarded to the outstanding senior in each department.

Kelly Christensen
Hometown: Ririe, Idaho
Graduation: Spring 2016

Why did you choose the University of Idaho?
My dad is a Vandal alumni, so I heard him talk about the university growing up. When I came up to visit I fell in love with UI and Moscow. The town is beautiful, and the school is small enough to ensure that you don’t become just a number, but big enough to allow for personal growth. It’s the perfect balance!

Kelly Christensen in front of the Vandal van.
I have been a part of the U of I Science Outreach and when we are lucky we get to take the Vandal Van to elementary schools to do science demos.

Math to the Rescue

College of Science grad Kelly Christensen uses mathematical modeling skills to tackle global problems.

Learn about Kelly


Kelly is also the recipient of the Department of Mathematics' Outstanding Graduating Seniors Award and the Department of Physics' George and Della Luke Award.


Mathematical Biology

Steve Krone

Physics 213 (I had the best TA!)

Research Project?
Dr. Steve Krone’s work. I have been lucky enough to get to work with him on modeling bacteria and phage interactions. It was been amazing to learn from him.

The marque for the Vagina Monlolues
I have been a cast member in the Monologues for three years. I love being involved with the production because I think the play has a really important message.


What is your favorite study tip?
Take dance breaks! It can be really easy to wear yourself out when trying to study for test, and after a while all the information starts to blend together. I like to get up and move around after I’ve been working for an hour or two. It brings the positive vibes back!

What is your go-to study snack?
Popcorn and lemonade

Kelly Christensen in her Cat! shirt.
I've been wearing a cat shirt every Monday for all of my Senior year (and part of my junior year). I'm not really sure how it started, but it has been fun!

Campus Life

What UI memory makes you laugh the most?
There are so many! I think one of my favorites is from freshman year. My roommate and I had Honors Chemistry 111 and 112 together. We had a ritual of blasting music and dancing around our room before going to take a test. Before one particularly difficult test we decided to take the music with us to the test. So we blasted Eye of the Tiger on our walk from the Tower to Renfrew and then took song requests when we got to the classroom. I still try to get in a dance session before any test I take.

Dorm or Greek?
Dorms! (and off campus as well!)

Intramural Sports or Student Clubs?
Student clubs. There is a club for everything! I got involved with UI Science Outreach and I have been able to go to elementary schools in the area and bring science to the kids. It is one of my favorite activities.

Kelly Christensen with the College of Science Ambassadors
Every year the College of Science ambassadors and other science majors join up to put on a show for kids in the community. That picture is from when we did "The Despicable Science Show." Dr. Dan Stelck of Chemistry was Gru and all of the undergrads were minions. We did fun science experiments with the kids.

Tell us

What are your plans for after graduation?
Right after graduation I am going to Pittsburgh to serve as the student leader for UI’s Summer Alternative Service Break trip. Then I’m going to be getting my master’s in mathematics at UI in the fall!

What should incoming first-year students know?
Take classes outside of your major. They help keep you sane and get your brain working in a different way. There is so much to learn out there and college is the perfect place to dive into different subjects. You might find new ways to tackle problems in your own field by looking at them through the lens of another discipline. Some of my favorite classes have been ones that had nothing to do with math.

What advice to you have for other students in your major?
Don’t forget how beautiful mathematics is. It can be found in everything around you. It can be discouraging when people talk about how much they hate the subject you love, so try to remember why you got into in the first place. Go talk to the professors! The math department has amazing faculty. They are always excited to talk about their research with anyone who is interested. And most importantly, show all your work. Partial credit is real, and it is a life saver.

Kelly Christensen and Dorothy Catey in front of their poster at the WOrld Science Fiction Writers convention.
This past summer Dorothy Catey (Sophomore) and I had the opportunity to present a poster at the World Science Fictions Writers convention. We had to explain a topic in science to the general public. We decided to discuss the different kinds of mathematical modeling and used a zombie outbreak to explain everything.


College of Science

Physical Address:
Mines 321

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3025
Moscow, ID 83844-3025

Phone: 208-885-6195

Fax: 208-885-6904


Web: College of Science