Skip to Main Content

Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the 2012 SACNAS National Conference

Gabriel Dorfsman-Hopkins (at right) of Dartmouth College took home the big prizes of US$2500 in cash from the AMS and a TI-Nspire calculator from Texas Instruments playing Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the 2012 SACNAS National Conference in Seattle early Saturday morning, October 13. The game  was part of the conference-wide breakfast, and drew an audience of about 1000.

Gabriel Dorfsman-Hopkins with his winnings


Here's Gabriel talking about his victory:

Find out more about Gabriel in "Dorfsman-Hopkins Is Dartmouth's Prize-Winning Math Wizard," published in Dartmouth Now.

The six undergraduate contestants who played that day are pictured below (and identified under the picture):


  • Jessica De Silva, California State University, Stanislaus
  • Gabriel Dorfsman-Hopkins, Dartmouth College
  • Vanessa Rivera Quiñones, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras
  • Claire Merriman, Vanderbilt University
  • Stefan Klajbor, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras
  • Schuyler Veeneman, San Francisco State University


Here's a brief summary. The game was close the whole way, providing early-morning drama for the attendees who managed to wake up for the 7:30 breakfast. Jessica had an early lead and held on to first through the sixth question. Claire and Gabriel were the only two contestants to answer question seven correctly, so they moved into first with two questions to go. All the contestants answered the eighth question correctly, and going into the last question--worth 900 points--only 800 points separated the six contestants.

Claire and Gabriel

No one answered correctly on the last question, so Gabriel and Claire were tied for first, each winning a TI-Nspire graphing calculator. They then squared off on one tie-breaking question to decide who would get \$500 and a chance at the Bonus Question worth \$2000. Breakfast time had almost run out when Gabriel answered correctly to win the tie-breaker. In the bonus, Gabriel seemed to realize that time was a factor and answered quickly. His answer was correct and he won the \$2000 to bring his total cash winnings to \$2500.


  • TI-Nspire CX from Texas Instruments and $2500 from the AMS: Gabriel Dorfsman-Hopkins
  • TI-Nspire CX from Texas Instruments: Claire Merriman
  • Maple 16 from Maplesoft: Jessica De Silva and Schuyler Veeneman
  • What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences (Vol. 2-8) from the AMS: Stefan Klajbor
  • Mathematics Everywhere from the AMS: Vanessa Rivera Quiñones

The AMS thanks sponsors Texas Instruments, Maplesoft, and John Wiley and Sons for supporting Who Wants to Be a Mathematician. We'd also like to thank Ivelisse Rubio (University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras), Ricardo Cortez (Tulane University), and Jenny Kurzweil (SACNAS) for their help arranging the event.

No idea if that was Courteney Cox inside the costume,
but as far as the University of Washington is concerned, Seattle is Cougar Town.

Photographs and video above by Annette Emerson (AMS Public Awareness Officer). Text by Mike Breen (AMS Public Awareness Officer and host of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician).

See more on the 2012 conference.

Find out more about Who Wants to Be a Mathematician .