When I was last on the academic job market in 2008, I was torn between positions at liberal arts colleges and research universities. I had offers from excellent liberal arts schools, including Claremont McKenna College and Bucknell College, but ultimately decided to come to UO so that I had an opportunity to supervise graduate students. I enjoy supervising undergraduate students as well, and have advised four CHC Honors theses, three departmental Honors theses, and several other undergraduate research/reading projects. Supervising students is my favorite aspect of the job. Beyond the usual reward one finds in sharing knowledge with others, getting to know our varied students—understanding their knowledge and skills, their likes and dislikes, and their dreams for the future—is the major driving force keeping me in academia.
I am applying for a Clark Honors College, Faculty in Residence position so that I can pursue the academic work I love in an environment where it is rewarded.
My research lies at the intersection of number theory, probability and mathematical statistical physics. This is a fascinating genre of mathematics research, with many opportunities for undergraduate research. The connection with physics allows intuition to be brought to bear on mathematical problems, which in turn allows undergraduates to make meaningful contributions to mathematical research—at least in the form of conjectures, and discovery of new phenomena.
I also enjoy reading mathematics broadly, and have experience supervising students on mathematics research that is either outside my educational background or applied to other domains of knowledge.
Besides supervision of research, I am also interested in undergraduate mathematics education, especially for students who may not ultimately pursue a degree in a quantitative/scientific field. Mathematics is simultaneously the language of the universe and a ubiquitous tool in modern life. Mathematics education tends to favor the latter, but it is in the former where the rich beauty of mathematics lies. The aesthetics of mathematics is often invisible to individuals who view it only as a tool. I would like to bring this aesthetic vision of mathematics to undergraduates (and others) who may not otherwise experience the sublime beauty of mathematics.
An example of a seminar I would like to offer would be the Development of New Numbers. Such a seminar could trace the history and necessity of new kinds of numbers (natural, integer, rational, algebraic, transcendental, real, complex, etc) as human knowledge has developed. I see such a seminar lying at the intersection of history, philosophy and mathematics, and I would interweave group exercises/projects to motivate the mathematics and inform the necessity (and beauty) of the development of new numbers.
Besides teaching, supervision and research, I also engage heavily in university service. Currently I am the Past President of the University Senate and the President of United Academics, as well as a member of many other committees (including chair of the Core Ed Council). I see some of my current service as fulfillment of certain projects/initiatives started as Senate President. My experience working on core education may be useful in any curricular redesign happening in CHC. While I expect to always be involved in university service, I also expect the level to subside from the current high-water mark. I enjoy the challenge of leadership, but I also wistfully dream of a time when I can fill my days reading, doing math, working with students and doing a sensible amount of service, and hopefully earning the rank of full professor.
Finally, I would like to underscore my commitment to the diversification of mathematics (and science more broadly). Much of this problem arises from enculturation of expectations by society at large, but many issues arise from an old guard of mathematicians who propagate racial and gender disparity via preferential treatment for men and microaggression towards others. These attitudes are incongruent with how I view myself as an educator and scholar, and I look forward to working in a unit that values the various backgrounds and experiences of our students, faculty and staff.