Concepts familiar from grade-school algebra have broad ramifications in computer science.
A memorial service was held at MIT last Tuesday, Nov. 22, for Antimony L. Gerhardt, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science, who died Nov. 17 in her Cambridge apartment. She was 24.
Gerhardt's death appeared to be a result of injuries suffered following an accident in her apartment, said her mother, Gwendolyn Gerhardt.
Gerhardt worked in the Microsystems Technology Laboratories and was also involved in community service as a member of MedLinks, an advocacy group of MIT students who help their peers get medical information.
She came to MIT in the fall of 2000 from Hammond, La. Her mother had been staying with her in Cambridge after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in August.
Her classmates knew Gerhardt as "a beautifully kind, brilliant, inspiring young woman," said Nancy Keuss, a senior in physics.
"She was consummately focused and dedicated as a student," Keuss said. "She was the person I'd think of when I imagined what a future successful, happy professional would look like."
Martin Schmidt, director of the Microsystems Technology Laboratories, said she was a "very impressive" student who earned a master's degree only three and a half years after arriving as a freshman at MIT. She was on track to finish her Ph.D. next year.
"She just seemed to have everything going for her," Schmidt said. "She was athletic, smart, very outgoing and engaging, and extremely giving of her time to others."
In 2002, she was named a Burchard Scholar in the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.
Gerhardt was a nationally ranked high school tennis player and played on the MIT women's tennis team during her freshman year.
"She was very friendly, polite, and a great team member," said her MIT tennis coach, Carol Matsuzaki. "She took things seriously but always had a smile on her face."
Gerhardt's friendly manner also made an impression on the housemasters at MacGregor House, where she lived as an undergraduate. Munther Dahleh and Jinane Abounadi, both members of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, recalled meeting Gerhardt during her freshman year and described her as very polite and well liked.
She is survived by her parents, Kent L. and Gwendolyn L. Gerhardt of Hammond, La.; her maternal grandparents, Gilbert E. and Mary Shaver of Ottumwa, Iowa; her paternal grandmother, Suzann L. Gerhardt of Moline, Ill.; six cousins and several aunts and uncles.
Donations may be made to two scholarships in Gerhardt's name: Southeastern Development Foundation, Antimony L. Gerhardt Endowed Scholarship in Mathematics, SLU-10703, Hammond, LA 70402; and the Antimony L. Gerhardt Named P.E.O. Scholarship Award, P.E.O., Louisiana State Chapter Scholarship Foundation, 2714 Bramble Drive, Monroe, LA 71201.