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Local Math Whiz Visits White House

Dan Liu, Student at Liberal Arts and Science Academy at LBJ High School

Dan Liu is a 16-year-old senior at Austin ISD's Liberal Arts and Science Academy at LBJ High School.  Yes, he's just 16 and going to graduate high school this Spring.  Liu and some of his friends at math camp won the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. It's a science competition for high school students.

Today, Liu's accomplishments earned him time today with President Obama.  The President hosted the first-ever White House science fair today to give bright young minds the same recognition as their athletic peers.

KUT News spoke by phone with Liu this afternoon, fresh off his visit to the executive mansion.

KUT News: How was visiting the White House today?

Dan Liu: It was very exciting, very beautiful. There were a lot of paintings and it was really exciting to be a part of that experience. We visited exhibits from other students from other competitions, and listened to a speech from President Obama.

KUT News: Did you get to meet the President?

Liu: Yeah, I got to shake his hand. He just said, "Keep up the good work," and stuff like that.

KUT News: What did that mean to you?

Liu: It really comes a long way. It's a lifetime experience and I'm really glad I got to live that.

KUT News: How did you win the Siemens competition?

Liu: My team and I over the summer went to Texas Mathworks Honors Summer Math Camp and under Dr. Jian Shen, our mentor, we looked at a problem in the field of graph theory which dealt with cycles and edge connections. We tried to find a relationship between them. Basically, our project could help reduce bottlenecks by […] making processes and networks more efficient.

KUT News: What do you want to do after you graduate this spring?

Liu: I don't know yet, but I'm looking into subjects like mathematics, etcetera and I hope I can find a passion there. Maybe do some research or mathematical science related career choices. I'm currently looking at a few colleges like MIT, Harvard, Caltech, Stanford and a couple more.

KUT News: Why is it that so many young people aren't into math as you are?

Liu: I guess it stems from a personal interest but I can't really say. I guess it really comes down to the nature of individual dedication and outside inspiration.

KUT News: So what motivates you and who inspires you?

Liu: My family has been very supportive, and I have a great calculus teacher in school, Mr. [Ed] Davis. Obviously my research mentor, Dr. Shen, and also the director of the math camp I go do, Dr. Max Warshauer.

KUT News: Congratulations on your accomplishments and thanks for your time!

Liu: Thank you.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.