47th Annual MLK Celebration Leadership Award Recipient: Marisa Gaetz

Marisa Gaetz '20, 'G


47th Annual MLK Leadership Award

Marisa Gaetz

Marisa Gaetz is a member of the class of 2020 at [MIT], where she is majoring in mathematics and minoring in philosophy. Marisa will stay at MIT to pursue her PhD in mathematics.

Marisa [was] born in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. Since high school, Marisa has worked on seven major mathematics research projects, primarily in the fields of combinatorics and representation theory. Marisa’s earlier research projects each had unique features that she found enticing: her project at the Boise State University Mathematics REU had applications to the physical sciences, her project at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Combinatorics REU was algebraic, and her projects at the University of Minnesota Duluth REU were combinatorial and concrete. All of these features are present in Marisa’s most recent research, of which she is most proud.

Marisa’s current research is on the representation theory of certain Lie groups and Lie algebras. In particular, she is working to classify “mutually centralizing subgroups” in certain Lie groups. Various properties of elementary particles, such as their spectra and quantum states, correspond to representations of the Lie groups and Lie algebras Marisa is studying. In this way, her research has potential applications to quantum mechanics. Marisa is excited about further exploring the numerous connections between physics and representation theory in her future work.

Outside of her research, Marisa is heavily involved in efforts to improve diversity and inclusivity within the mathematics community. In the spring of 2020, she is for the third time serving as a mentor for MIT’s PRIMES Circle program, which has the goal of helping local high school students from underrepresented groups develop their interest in mathematics. Marisa has also been an active member of the MIT Mathematics Department’s Diversity and Community Building Committee since its inception in 2018.

In addition to mathematics, Marisa is very passionate about using education and technology as means to improving the criminal justice system and reducing mass incarceration.

--The Hertz Foundation, 2020