The Julia Dale Prize in Mathematics


The Julia Dale Prize is a cash prize awarded annually by the Department of Mathematics to a mathematics major (or majors) on the basis of excellence in mathematics. A selection committee is appointed by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Julia Dale received the A.B. degree from Transylvania University, and the Ph.D. from Cornell University. She held positions at Mississipi State College for Women, the University of Oklahoma, and Delta State College before joining the faculty of Duke University in 1930 as Assistant Professor of Mathematics. She died of renal failure at Duke University Hospital on January 13, 1936.

Friends and relatives of Professor Dale established the Julia Dale Memorial Fund in the spring of 1938; the Julia Dale Prize is supported by the income from this fund, which was the first memorial fund established in honor of a woman member of the Duke faculty.

by her nephew, Mr. William Hardin True (2 July 1932-29 December 1997)

Julia May Dale was born October 16, 1893 at Fox Run Farm, near Eminence, Kentucky. Her parents were James Harrison Dale and Ida Todd Dale. Both were graduates of tiny Eminence College. Her father served as Kentucky's Secretary of Agriculture and later became a prominent breeder of shorthorn cattle in the Alabama Black Belt, having moved there in 1916.

Julia received her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Transylvania College, Lexington, Kentucky in 1914, when she was twenty years old. She served as class secretary and as costume director of the glee club, and she was active in the Chi Omega Sorority. In the Class Profile her "Desiderium" was listed as a wish to "Unseat the Faculty" and her "Distinatio"' as "School Marm."

Julia's parents had encouraged her to attend college, but they were not happy that she wanted to attend graduate school. Evidently, Missouri was one of the few schools to offer women assistantships in mathematics, and she received her Master of Arts Degree from the University of Missouri in 1922. Julia went on to earn a doctorate from Cornell University in 1924. She had no financial help from her family; in fact, they were opposed to her graduate work, her travels, and her refusal to come home and "settle down."

Julia taught at Mississippi State College for Women in Columbus, Mississippi, the University of Oklahoma, and Delta State College in Cleveland, Mississippi, before coming to Duke University in 1930. While at Oklahoma, Julia did volunteer work on the Indian reservations in addition to her teaching duties. At Delta State she helped coach the women's basketball team for several years. Julia served as Chairman of the Department of Mathematics form 1925 to 1930.

In 1925 her youngest sibling, William Pratt Dale II, developed polio. Seeking the best treatment then available, Julia and her brother went to Boston; they traveled in a private railroad car with a nurse to care for William. Their expenses were paid by a rich uncle, William Burr Dale, a Louisville wool broker and a director of the L & N Railroad.

Much later, Julia took her brother to Marblehead, Massachusetts, for further care. Until her death, Julia provided a home for her brother, first in Cleveland, Mississippi, and later in Durham, North Carolina. William Dale went on to receive his doctorate from Duke University and taught history at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Julia's youngest sister, Mary, cared for William after Julia's death. A somewhat difficult person, Mary evidently destroyed Julia's keepsakes and professional papers.

An avid bridge player, Julia often attended duplicate bridge conventions. She did lovely needlepoint; we have a Princeton Tiger piece she designed--an early beau was a Princeton man we think! Julia also greatly enjoyed college basketball and football games.

A favorite family story is that about 1917 a younger sister's college roommate went to Alabama to visit. The friend had heard much about the brilliant older sister--her first glimpse of Julia was of a slender woman perched on a tractor in a far field, holding a book and working out a math problem! Julia waved and just continued to disk the field.

Julia's sister-in-law, Mrs. J. Todd Dale, remembers Julia's visits to Greensboro, Alabama, and their frequent bridge games. When Frances Dale [i.e., Mrs. J. Todd Dale] and her sister, Nancy, visited Durham, Julia gave a lovely party for them and invited students as well as many faculty members.

On a personal note, Aunt Julia helped with my delivery, though the doctor did arrive in time! I remember visiting her in Durham, partly because of the long train ride from Alabama. Aunt Julia gave me a train set and also bought me an overcoat, which probably pleased my mother a great deal. I was four years old when Aunt Julia died, so this trip is my only clear memory of her. I do know she was my mother's favorite sister, and they were very close.

As to William Elliott*, we know very little. He and Aunt Julia met at Cornell University. They shared an interest in bridge and both loved to travel. When Aunt Julia was in Marblehead with her brother, Professor Elliott visited several times. He also visited in Greensboro, Alabama, and was very popular with her friends there. At her death in 1936, William Elliott accompanied Aunt Julia's body to Greensboro, where she rests in Newbern Cemetery.

*William Whitfield Elliott (1898-1993) was a Duke Professor of Mathematics and a close friend of Professor Dale. After Dale's death, Professor Elliott helped establish the Julia Dale Memorial Fund. Also, in 1988, through a generous gift to Duke University, Elliot endowed the W. W. Elliott Research Assistant Professorship.

2020: Alex Damian, Onkar Gujral

2019: Irina Cristali, David Geng, Zhenhua Liu, Xueying Wang

2018: Feng Gui, Trung Can, Weiyao Wang

2017: Efe Aras, Alex Pieloch

2016: Lindsey Brown, Bryan Runjing Liu, Paul Ziquan Yang

2015: David Hemminger, Eugene Rabinovich

2014: Daniel Stern, Daniel Vitek

2013: Bryan Jacobson, Kara Karpman

2012: Vivek Bhattacharya, Veronica Ciocanel

2011: Alan Guo, Misha Lavrov

2010: Wutichai Congchitmate, Jason D. Lee, Matthew Rognlie

2009: Jason Ferguson, Mark Hallen, Aaron Pollack

2008: Tirasan Khandhawit, Charles Staats III

2007: Brandon Levin, James Zou

2006: Adam Chandler, Yee Lok Wong

2005: Oaz Nir, Mayank Varia

2004: David Arthur (First Prize), David Marks (First Prize), Ryan Letchworth (Second Prize), Lindsay Piechnik (Second Prize)

2003: Melanie Eggers Wood (First Prize), Matthew Atwood (Second Prize)

2002: Kevin David Lacker, Samuel Westmoreland Malone

2001: Carl Alexander Miller (First Prize), Michael James Colsher (Second Prize), John Alexander Thacker (Second Prize)

2000: Sarah Elizabeth Dean (First Prize), Jeffrey Alexander Mermin (Second Prize), Luis Alfonso Von Ahn (Second Prize)

1999: Christopher Edward Beasley, Johanna Lynn Miller, William Garrett Mitchener

1998: Andrew Olstrom Dittmer (First Prize), James William Harrington (Second Prize), Noam Mordechai Shazeer (Second Prize)

1997: Robert Richard Schneck, Tung Thanh Tran

1996: Elizabeth Carol Ayer, Michael Allen Rierson

1995: Paul A. Dreyer, Jr., Craig B. Gentry

1994: Jeffrey Vanderkam (First Prize), Alexander Hartemink (Second Prize), Russell Jackson (Second Prize), John Kelley (Second Prize)

1993: Sang Hoon Chin (First Prize), Jennifer Robin Slimowitz (First Prize), Robert Lane Basset (Second Prize), Oliver Marshall Goldstein (Second Prize)

1992: William Alan Schneeberger (First Prize), David Morgan Jones (Second Prize)

1991: Jeanne Nielsen (First Prize), Christopher Finger (Second Prize)

1990: Brian S. Mangum (First Prize), Brett R. Kelts (Second Prize)

1989: Leslie Alice McFarland (First Prize), Andrew Harrison Gross (Second Prize), Christopher Mathew Kribs (Second Prize)

1988: Geoffrey M. Davis (First Prize), Paula Marie Andersen (Second Prize), Joseph E. Gottman (Second Prize), Nancy E. Mangum (Second Prize)

1987: James J. Bock (First Prize), Michael Gordon (First Prize), Paul Heffernan (Second Prize)

1986: Michelangelo Grigni (First Prize), Katherine M. Benson (Second Prize)

1985: Keith Calvert Ivey (First Prize), Patricia Jean Dunn (Second Prize)

1984: Michael Grigni (First Prize), Richard Gustave Heck, Jr. (Second Prize)

1983: Frederick Melvin Parham, Jr. (First Prize), Bruce Eugene Simmons (Second Prize)

1982: John Joseph Fitzpatrick (First Prize), Joseph Domenic Koltisko (Second Prize), Douglas Charles McCrory (Second Prize), Michael Scott Wolmack (Second Prize)

1981: David Massey (First Prize), Leon Gerald Holzsweig (Second Prize), William P. Kagelmeyer (Second Prize), Michael Andre McGlockton (Second Prize), Richard George Robb, Jr. (Second Prize)

1980: R. J. Plummer, Jr. (First Prize), Linda Sheriff (Second Prize), Brent Torstick (Second Prize)

1979: Melinda M. Hall (First Prize), Jonathan C. Sevy (First Prize), William G. Kaelin, Jr. (Second Prize)

1978: Karen Louise Foster, Douglas William Nychka, Erick Panken

1977: Paul S. Calem, Ross M. Cox, Michael D. Hamrick

1976: Peter Harper Mills (First Prize), Thomas H. Lewis (Second Prize)

1975: Jacqueline McKinney

1974: Jarvis D. Brock, Stanley J. Brooks

1973: Carl Gardner (First Prize), Jane Satterwhite (Second Prize), Martin Sturzenbecker (Second Prize)

1972: Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

1971: Mary L. Getz, Roger Solomon

1970: Clark R. Wilcox, Robert M. Geist III

1969: Lewis B. Dozier (First Prize), Harvey S. Gotts (Second Prize)

1968: William Roy Taylor, Jr. (First Prize), Grady Wilson Miller III (Second Prize)

1967: James Dendy Mann (First Prize), Richard R. Gross (Second Prize)

2020: Anni Chen, Yi Li, Yijia Liu, Grace Qi, Zeyu Shen, William Zhao

2019: Tony Sun, Norah Tan, Haoyang Yu

2018: Joey Li, Jianyou Wang, Xunjing Wei

2017: Alex Damian, Zhenhua Liu, Cheryl Xueying Wang

2016: David Geng, Weiyao Wang
Honorable Mention: Daniel Chai, Irina Cristali, Xiaoling Liu, Neil Luo, Vishnu Menon, Annie Yuanling Wang, Yumin Zhang

2015: Feng Gui, Brandon Ho, Oscar Li, Gehua Tong

2014: Jacob Lettie, Derrick Nowak, Tony Qiao, Liaowang Zou

2013: Lindsey Brown, David Builes, Kyle Casey, Kim Lien Hoang, Alexandru Milu, Michael Ogez, William Victor, Zhitao Rex Ying, Ziquan Yang

2012: David Hemminger, Leslie Lei Lei, Eugene Rabinovich

2011: Joseph Graves, Daniel Stern, Youngjik Yang

2010: Michael Banaszek, James Mallernee, TongTong Zhan

2009: Vivek Bhattacharya, Veronica Ciocanel, Ana Maria Tenekedjieva

2008: Mikhail Lavrov, Tanawit Sae Sue