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Clark Honors College, Faculty in Residence application

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.



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BA/BS Modeling

Each circle represents a 4-credit course to be distributed among the categories of Language, Quantitative Literacy, Writing & Cultures, and the Areas of Inquiry: Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Arts & Letters and Other. You may edit the names of the categories. Currently the Bachelor of Arts requires 12 credits more than the Bachelor of Sciences—these are represented by the lighter colored circles.

Bachelors of (specify)

Natural Sciences
Social Sciences
Arts & Letters
Language
Quantitative Literacy
Writing & Cultures
Writing 121
Writing 122/123
DIA
GP
Other (specify)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Post your proposed degree.

Drag the circles to the categories and create your own Bachelors degree. Click on “Post your proposed degree” to send your proposed degree to the comments. This will result in some HTML code appearing in the comments text area below. Just hit “Post Comment” and your proposal will appear in the comments!

You may edit the text within each circle, for instance to designate a specific course. This has been done with Writing 121, 122/3 and a course in U.S. Cultures: Difference, Inequality, Agency (DIA) and one in Global Perspectives (GP). These courses are currently considered immutable because their requirements are recently specified by Senate legislation. We have categorized these writing courses and US:DIA, GP under the heading Writing & Cultures to unify and simplify the presentation of requirements to students.

Things to think about when dragging and editing:

  • The total number of credits should be the same between the BA and BS
  • Based on the Rule of Thirds for undergraduate degrees: 1/3 credits for Core Ed, 1/3 for the major and 1/3 for exploration, and the 180 credit requirement for Bachelors degrees, solutions which use fewer of the light gray circles are preferable.
  • Currently courses are allowed to double-dip betwixt Areas of Inquiry and between an Area of Inquiry and US:DIA or GP. Thus it may be possible to satisfy requirements without taking a course for each circle appearing in the diagram.
  • Currently courses which satisfy the BA or BS may not be used simultaneously to satisfy an Area, US:DIA, or GP requirement. We should discuss whether it is preferable, feasible and/or necessary to relax this prohibition.
  • The current requirements for Areas of Inquiry are actually 15 credits per Area—not four courses per Area. This is to ease transferability, and the vast majority of our students meet this requirement by taking four courses.
  • We are rethinking our BA/BS requirements; do not feel constrained by our current requirements when distributing courses.
  • If you have creative ideas about how BA or BS specific courses, sequences or programs should work, please email me.

Current Category Descriptions

Continue reading “BA/BS Modeling”
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These Fonts Here

Google Fonts integration with WordPress (and a convenient Gutenberg block) has changed web design for the better. You can now easily choose from 700+ free fonts to type-up your webpage.

Check out a few of my favorites and why I chose them for this site.


Cormorant Garamond

If it were up to me, I’d always write in a font like Garamond (or the pretty well-done bastardization offered here). But it’s not a good font for the web. It’s not chunky enough for good legibility; even on paper it can be a tad effete. So I kept looking for the basic content font for this site.


Avería Serif Libre

Now here’s a web font! Avería Serif Libre is chunky enough to be legible on a screen. It’s serifed, but barely, and it has a slightly blurry appearance that lends personality. The reason for this is amazing—it’s formed by averaging all the serif fonts in Google’s font collection! You can read all about it here. As a probabilist, how could I resist?

Avería Serif Libre is the basic content font for this site.


Open Sans CONDENSED 700

I loves me some condensed sans serifs. Open Sans Condensed (here in the 300 weight) is the font for all subheadings (in ALL CAPS). The Open Sans collection is an excellent sans font that goes well with everything. The condensed version is tight, but legible, and the 700 weight makes a good heading font.


Archivo NARROW

The default heading font for the theme (Ixion) is Archivo Narrow in ALL CAPS. It still appears in menus, buttons and featured content because I haven’t gotten around to changing the CSS. It’s a good font, especially if you’re stuck with it.


Faster One

I chose this one for the header, because it looks FAST! Also, when I’m in a hurry I sign my email -=C

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Core Education Reform Timeline

October 4, 2017
Core ed task force formed

The task force is empaneled by UO Senate.

October 4, 2017
December 7, 2017
Presentation to the UO Board of Trustees Outlining the Initiative

BoT Agenda

December 7, 2017
March 14, 2018
SENATE APPROVES CREATION OF A PERMANENT CORE ED COUNCIL

Senate Motion

March 14, 2018
April 15, 2018
Senate approves new areas and methods of inquiry

Senate Motion

April 15, 2018
May 9, 2018
Senate Approves replacement of the MulticulTural Requirement and introduction of DIA/GP Requirements

Senate Motion

May 9, 2018
August 29, 2018
Progress update to UO Board of Trustees

BoT Agenda

August 29, 2018
October 4, 2018
Inaugural meeting of the Core Ed Council

October 4, 2018
November 1, 2018
Difference, Inequality, Agency: Training and Classroom Allies CAIT FORMED

CAIT Charge

November 1, 2018
January 16, 2019
Core Education CAIT Formed 

CAIT Charge

January 16, 2019
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Post-tenure Review Statement

Research

I study the distribution of algebraic numbers, mathematical statistical physics and roots/eigenvalues of random polynomials/matrices. 

Projects in Progress

1The distribution of values of the non-archimedean absolute Vandermonde determinant and the non-archimedean Selberg integral (with Jeff Vaaler). The Mellin transform of the distribution function of the non-archimedean absolute Vandermonde (on the ring of integers of a local field) is related to a non-archimedean analog of the Selberg/Mehta integral. A recursion for this integral allows us to find an analytic continuation to a rational function on a cylindrical Riemann surface. Information about the poles of this rational function allow us to draw conclusions about the range of values of the non-archimedean absolute Vandermonde.

2Non-archimedean electrostatics. The study of charged particles in a non-archimedean local field whose interaction energy is proportional to the log of the distance between particles, at fixed coldness $\beta$. The microcanonical, canonical and grand canonical ensembles are considered, and the partition function is related to the non-archimedean Selberg integral considered in 1. Probabilities of cylinder sets are explicitly computable in both the canonical and grand canonical ensembles.

3Adèlic electrostatics and global zeta functions (with Joe Webster). The non-archimedean Selberg integral/canonical partition function are examples of Igusa zeta functions, and as such local Euler factors in a global zeta function. This global zeta function (the exact definition of which is yet to be determined) is also the partition function for a canonical electrostatic ensemble defined on the adèles of a number field. The archimedean local factors relate to the ordinary Selberg integral, the Mehta integral, and the partition function for the complex asymmetric $\beta$ ensemble. The dream would be a functional equation for the global zeta function via Fourier analysis on the idèles, though any analytic continuation would tell us something about the distribution of energies in the adèlic ensemble.

4Pair correlation in circular ensembles when $\beta$ is an even square integer (with Nate Wells and Elisha Hulbert). This can be expressed in terms of a form in a grading of an exterior algebra, the coefficients of which are products of Vandermonde determinants in integers. Hopefully an understanding of the asymptotics of these coefficients will lead to scaling limits for the pair correlation function for an infinite family of coldnesses via hyperpfaffian/Berezin integral techniques. This would partially generalize the Pfaffian point process arising in COE and CSE. There is a lot of work to do, but there is hope.

5Martingales in the Weil height Banach space (with Nathan Hunter). Allcock and Vaaler produce a Banach space in which $\overline{\mathbb Q}^{\times}/\mathrm{Tor}$ embeds densely in a co-dimension 1 subspace, the (Banach space) norm of which extends the logarithmic Weil height. Field extensions of the maximal abelian extension of $\mathbb Q$ correspond to $\sigma$-algebras, and towers of fields to filtrations. Elements in the Banach space (including those from $\overline{\mathbb Q}^{\times}/\mathrm{Tor}$) represent random variables, and the set up is ready for someone to come along and use martingale techniques—including the optional stopping time theorem—to tell us something about algebraic numbers.

Instruction

I have three current PhD students and one current departmental Honors student. I have supervised two completed PhDs and six completed honors theses. You can find a list of current and completed PhD and honors students on my CV.

My teaching load has been reduced for the last five years (or so) due to an FTE release for serving on the Executive Council of United Academics. As President of United Academics, and Immediate Past President of the University Senate I am not teaching in the 2018 academic year. In AY2019, I am scheduled to teach a two-quarter sequence on mathematical statistical physics.

I take my teaching seriously. I prepare detailed lecture notes for most courses (exceptions being introductory courses, where my notes are better characterized as well-organized outlines). When practical and appropriate I use active learning techniques, mostly through supervised group work. I am a tough, but fair grader.

Service

Service encompasses pretty much everything that an academic does outside of teaching and research. This includes advising, serving on university and departmental committees, reviewing papers, writing letters of recommendation, organizing seminars and conferences, serving on professional boards, etc. The impossibility of doing it all allows academics to decide what types of service they are going specialize based on their interests and abilities.

I have spent the last three years heavily engaged in university level service. I currently serve as the president of United Academics of the University of Oregon, and I am the immediate-past president of the University Senate. Before that I was the Vice President of the Senate and the chair of the Committee on Committees. All of these roles are difficult and require a large investment of thought and energy. The reward for this hard work is a good understanding of how the university works, who to go to when issues need resolution, and who can be safely ignored.

I know what academic initiatives are underway, being involved in several of them. I am spearheading, with the new Core Education Council, the reform of general education at UO. I am working on the New Faculty Success Program—an onboarding program for new faculty—with the Office of the Provost and United Academics. I am currently on the Faculty Salary Equity Committee and its Executive Committee. I have been a bit player in many other projects and initiatives including student evaluation reform, the re-envisioning of the undergraduate multicultural requirement, and the creation of an expedited tenure process to allow the institution alacrity when recruiting imminent scholars. This list is incomplete.

Next year, with high probability, I will be the chair of the bargaining committee for the next collective bargaining agreement between United Academics and the University of Oregon (this assumes I am elected UA president). I will also be working with the Core Ed Council to potentially redefine the BA/BS distinction, with a personal focus on ensuring quantitative/data/information literacy is distributed throughout our undergraduate curriculum. I will also be working to help pilot (and hopefully scale) the Core Ed “Runways” (themed, cohorted clusters of gen ed courses) with the aspirational goal of having 100% of traditional undergraduates in a high-support, high-engagement, uniquely-Oregon first-year experience within the next 3-5 years.

As important as the service I am doing, is the service I am not doing. I do little to no departmental service (though part of this derives from the CAS dean’s interpretation of the CBA) and I avoid non-required departmental functions (for reasons). I do routinely serve on academic committees for graduate/honors students, etc. I decline most requests to referee papers/grants applications, and serve on no editorial boards. The national organizations for which I am an officer are not mathematical organizations, but rather organizations dedicated to shared governance.

Diversity & Equity

The two principles which drive my professional work are truth and fairness.

I remember after a particularly troubling departmental vote, a senior colleague attempted to assuage my anger at the department by explaining that “the world is not fair.” I hate this argument because it removes responsibility from those participating in such decisions, and places blame instead on a stochastic universe. And, while there is stochasticity in the universe, we should be working toward ameliorating inequities caused by chance, and in instances where we have agency, making decisions which do not compound them.

I do not think the department does a very good job at recognizing nor ameliorating inequities. Indeed, there are individuals, policies and procedures that negatively impact diversity. See my recent post Women & Men in Mathematics for examples.

My work on diversity and equity issues has been primarily through the University Senate and United Academics. As Vice-president of the UO Senate, I sat on the committee which vetted the Diversity Action Plans of academic units. I also worked on, or presided over several motions put forth by the University Senate which address equity, diversity and inclusion. Obviously, the work of the Senate involves many people, and in many instances I played only a bit part, but nonetheless I am proud to have supported/negotiated/presided over the following motions which have addressed diversity and equity issues on campus:

Besides my work with the Senate, I have also participated in diversity activities through my role(s) with United Academics of the University of Oregon. United Academics supports both a Faculty of Color and LGBTQ* Caucus which help identify barriers and propose solutions to problems affecting those communities on campus. United Academics bargained a tenure-track faculty equity study, and I am currently serving on a university committee identifying salary inequities based on protected class and proposing remedies for them.

I have attended in innumerable rallies supporting social justice, and marched in countless marches. I flew to Washington D.C. to attend the March for Science. I’ve participated in workshops and trainings on diversity provided by the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Association of University Professors.

I recognize that I am not perfect. I cannot represent all communities nor emulate the diversity of thought on campus. I have occasionally used out-moded words and am generally terrible at using preferred pronouns (though I try). I recognize my short-comings and continually work to address them.

There are different tactics for turning advocacy into action, and individuals may disagree on their appropriateness and if/when escalation is called for. My general outlook is to work within a system to address inequities until it becomes clear that change is impossible from within. In such instances, if the moral imperative for change is sufficient then I work for change from without. This is my current strategy when tackling departmental diversity issues; I work with administrative units, the Senate and the union to put forth/support policies which minimize bias, discrimination and caprice in departmental decisions. I ensure that appropriate administrators know when I feel the department has fallen down on our institutional commitment to diversity, and I report incidents of bias, discrimination and harassment to the appropriate institutional offices (subject to the policy on Student Directed Reporters).

Fairness is as important to me as truth, and I look forward to the day where I can focus more of my time uncovering the latter instead of continually battling for the former.

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Diversity and Equity

Notice

This post is part of my post-tenure review. If it seems self-serving, that is because it is.

The two principles which drive my professional work are truth and fairness.

I remember after a particularly troubling departmental vote, a senior colleague attempted to assuage my anger at the department by explaining that “the world is not fair.” I hate this argument because it removes responsibility from those participating in such decisions, and places blame instead on a stochastic universe. And, while there is stochasticity in the universe, we should be working toward ameliorating inequities caused by chance, and in instances where we have agency, making decisions which do not compound them.

I do not think the department does a very good job at recognizing nor ameliorating inequities. Indeed, there are individuals, policies and procedures that negatively impact diversity. See my recent post Women & Men in Mathematics for examples.

My work on diversity and equity issues has been primarily through the University Senate and United Academics. As Vice-president of the UO Senate, I sat on the committee which vetted the Diversity Action Plans of academic units. I also worked on, or presided over several motions put forth by the University Senate which address equity, diversity and inclusion. Obviously, the work of the Senate involves many people, and in many instances I played only a bit part, but nonetheless I am proud to have supported/negotiated/presided over the following motions which have addressed diversity and equity issues on campus:

Besides my work with the Senate, I have also participated in diversity activities through my role(s) with United Academics of the University of Oregon. United Academics supports both a Faculty of Color and LGBTQ* Caucus which help identify barriers and propose solutions to problems affecting those communities on campus. United Academics bargained a tenure-track faculty equity study, and I am currently serving on a university committee identifying salary inequities based on protected class and proposing remedies for them.

I have attended in innumerable rallies supporting social justice, and marched in countless marches. I flew to Washington D.C. to attend the March for Science. I’ve participated in workshops and trainings on diversity provided by the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Association of University Professors.

I recognize that I am not perfect. I cannot represent all communities nor emulate the diversity of thought on campus. I have occasionally used out-moded words and am generally terrible at using preferred pronouns (though I try). I recognize my short-comings and continually work to address them.

There are different tactics for turning advocacy into action, and individuals may disagree on their appropriateness and if/when escalation is called for. My general outlook is to work within a system to address inequities until it becomes clear that change is impossible from within. In such instances, if the moral imperative for change is sufficient then I work for change from without. This is my current strategy when tackling departmental diversity issues; I work with administrative units, the Senate and the union to put forth/support policies which minimize bias, discrimination and caprice in departmental decisions. I ensure that appropriate administrators know when I feel the department has fallen down on our institutional commitment to diversity, and I report incidents of bias, discrimination and harassment to the appropriate institutional offices (subject to the policy on Student Directed Reporters).

Fairness is as important to me as truth, and I look forward to the day where I can focus more of my time uncovering the latter instead of continually battling for the former.

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Math Pictures

The set of polynomials of degree 4 with all roots on the unit circle, and inscribed easily described regions.

The set of polynomials of degree 4 with all roots on the unit circle, and inscribed easily described regions.

Large resultants of families of polynomials generated as in Dobrowolski’s Lemma (which leads to the best known lower bound for Mahler measure as a function of degree).

The eigenvalues of a real random asymmetric matrix with iid normal entries.

I’m not sure what this is, but it’s interesting.

The zeros of Wronskians of consecutive Hermite (and other classical orthogonal) polynomials are pretty wild.

Pair correlation in the scaling limit near the real edge in Ginibre’s real ensemble.

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