Hi, my name is Danny Minkin, and I grew up in a house on a hill right outside the hamlet of Oyster Bay. My town, although small, has a good mix of basic services, specialty shops, and my favorite destinations, restaurants. Oyster Bay is also home to Sagamore Hill, the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center, and Planting Fields Arboretum. I would play in all these places as a child, climbing to the top of a leafy trail, or rolling down a clover and dandelion infested slope on the outskirts of a well manicured grassy lawn. At that time I could not appreciate the history embedded in the old houses contained within these parks, nor did I yet understand the dedication and effort of those who created these public spaces for everyone to enjoy. But, what did affect me was the natural beauty that every flowering plant and tree contributed to the garden it was in. It made me think of the untold stories that existed in the flora's endeavor to survive. From then on, I started to notice patterns in the leaves, buds, and pine cones that I knew had some sort of order and symmetry; I wanted to know what laws or rules were obeyed by Nature's creations that allowed them to effortlessly show off their compelling beauty.
I also started to look for patterns in everything, especially numbers. In 2nd grade, I would begin multiplying numbers by two over and over again to see how fast they would grow in about ten successive multiplications. In the classroom, I found the math curriculum very easy and by seventh grade, I asked to be advanced into more challenging courses. My school, Portledge, is a very small independent school that was able to accommodate me until junior year. I've taken additional math classes through Stanford's EPGY program, including linear algebra and differential equations; along the way,I discovered the joys of physics. My advisor at school happens to be a physics teacher and although I did not take his courses, we talk about physics all the time.
I'm an avid chess player and just started going to tournaments this past year. In the past, I always played for fun but now I'm trying to improve my rating and also my chess ability by playing stronger players. I was pleased to have just won the U.S. East Amateur tournament in the reserve section (under 1800 rating). I help run a chess program after school for both our lower school kids, grades 5 and under, and also our middle school kids, grades 6-8.
I'm also a musician, but not a very good one. I play baritone and piano. I love fencing because it's also like chess, only it's more physical instead of mental. I'm involved in student government, having served as student council secretary and junior class president. My community service activities have been limited to collecting math and science books for Books for Africa and tutoring students in math, chemistry, and physics. My classmates and I are about to embark on a project to build a school in Cambodia, which we are all very excited about, especially as we think it will be the high point of our senior year.
I already know a number of this year's Simons Fellows from different math activities, especially the Ross Program in number theory at Ohio State, and the Nassau County Math team. Our math team came in 2nd this year at the New York State math contest, and placed 7th in the nation at ARML this past June in Division B. We played lots of ultimate frisbee, board games, and cards as well.
Lastly, I have two dogs, two cats and a younger sister. I enjoy playing with the animals, but one of the cats is having a very difficult time adjusting to our new puppy who is a little devil. However, he can be very charming so we overlook some of his less than admirable qualities. Hopefully, our cat will adjust soon as the stress is making him lose weight.
I am thrilled and excited to be part of the Simons program and I look forward to working with Drs. Noé and Metcalf at the LTC. I have done some reading and have more to go, but I plan to work very hard to find an interesting and stimulating project that will contribute a little more to our understanding of the many laws that govern Nature.