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Thursday, May 8, 2014

SU's Gerhold Presents at Posters on the Hill

Gerhold with HarrisSALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University senior Erika Gerhold recently presented her research on the mathematics used in cryptography at the 18th Annual Posters on the Hill event in Washington, D.C.

Gerhold was one of only 60 student participants selected from among nearly 600 applicants by the Council on Undergraduate Research. This is the second consecutive year an SU student has been the sole representative of a Maryland campus presenting at the event. U.S. Congressional leaders and representatives of funding agencies attended.

“I worked with underlying mathematical structures that keep your credit card information safe when you make online purchases,” said Gerhold, a mathematics major from Smithsburg, MD. Gerhold with Cardin and SU Deputy Chief of Staff Robby Sheehan“With the possible invention of the quantum computer, current algorithms being used could be broken by the computational power of new technology. Many promising methods being studied to create future cryptographic methods are closely related to what I examined.”

At the event, Gerhold met U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and U.S. Congressman Andy Harris and explained her research on “The Multiplicative Structure of the Group of Units of Polynomial Quotient Rings” to them. She also attended a panel session on science and technology policy in the White House with young professionals who are using their Ph.D.s in biology and chemistry to work in D.C.

Spickler and Gerhold“I enjoyed hearing their stories and seeing other uses for degrees in these scientific fields,” Gerhold said.

“Having a student from SU’s Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology again selected to participate is quite an honor and reflects the quality of our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs,” said Dean Karen Olmstead.

Gerhold’s faculty mentor, Dr. Don Spickler of SU’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department, called her research results “elegant and surprising.”

“She has taken a very difficult question from advanced mathematics and produced an easy to understand solution,” he added.

Gerhold has twice presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and at the Mathematical Association of America’s MD-DC-VA section meeting, as well as at its Mathfest and SU’s Student Research Conference. She will pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics at Louisiana State University in the fall. Eventually, she hopes to teach at the college level. 

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at      

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