# Biography of a

# Real-Life Mathematician

# WHo is a REal-life Mathematician?

In Spring 2020 semester, I decided to have my students interview living mathematicians by training, by trade, or by hobby. Many liberal arts-facing survey courses have students explore past mathematical "greats"--Gauss, Euler, Newton--but I wanted my students to see that math is a living, breathing subject where things are continually being discovered.

The final poster can be seen in the snapshot below. The images across the top are students in the course who chose to submit their photo for inclusion on the poster - in the process of taking this course and working through this and other projects, they are realizing that each of them is, indeed, a Real-Life Mathematician ! The individual poster files can be found at the bottom of this page.

Note: The majority of the posters have been left unedited as presented by students with their impression from their interviews. If there is a factual error that you would like me to fix, please email me and I will get the original file from the student and make the appropriate adjustments.

My experiences with this assignment are published in the 2021 June/July issue of the MAA FOCUS.

## STudent COmments

This project in particular was cool to see how mathematicians aren't just the stereotype and that math transcends into so many different fields that I’m interested in.

Meeting and getting to know a real and young mathematician was truly a wonderful experience. Having the chance to interview Angela Jarrett about her role and impact in the bio math world was very interesting. I got to learn to about an application that I did not realize involved math and how impactful math is in creating treatments for cancer patients. Our conversations were in depth and very knowledgeable. It was a positive in my eyes because it shows me that the science world and math world are constantly working together to find new ways to treat all cancers.

After talking with Dr. Francesca, I can understand mathematicians better, because studying math is a boring but very magical thing. When mathematicians encounter a problem, their reaction is completely different from ours; just like Dr. Francesca, when she encounters a difficult problem, she may be very excited because it means that she is about to solve a problem that most people cannot solve, which may be why they can become mathematicians. In my opinion, mathematicians always have strong willpower when facing difficulties, and this willpower is enough for them to concentrate on solving all problems. We should learn the spirit possessed by mathematicians, and only then can help us succeed.

My experience with Dr. Elisabeth Brown went better than I expected and had me very engaged in our conversation even though it was via email. Right of the bat, she made me laugh and feel like I wasn’t doing a school project but just taking time to get to know someone. Even though we talked through email she never failed to express that she wanted to get to know me as well. We took time to talk about crazy snow storms or something that occurred during our day. This was a positive aspect of my experience, and it helped me identify the true life that is lived by a mathematician.

It was extremely interesting being able to discuss the work Professor Crow has done. Math is never something that I have been good at or has interested me very much. Learning about the unbelievable travel experiences that being a mathematician has given Kathi changed my perspective. I absolutely love traveling and it is something I have always wanted to be able to do in my future career so hearing that she was able to do that while being a mathematician was not something I had thought about before.

This project for me was extremely helpful to see what life is like in mathematics compared to what my father always told me. Growing up I always wanted to be a math teacher until my dad talked me out of it and then I switched to an Accounting major now Criminal Justice. It’s been a crazy ride but through this I have learned what my dad told me growing up was nothing but incorrect. Finding something you love to do is what matters. I would keep this project for future classes so that students can see the impacts other mathematicians are making and possibly rediscover the love they once had for math by talking to one.

Some positive outcomes from this was I got to talk to someone who was not anyone who graded me or would give me a test about math. It was really cool to just talk to her about how math was and I bet it gave her a nice little break from having to explain math problems but instead got to talk about herself and her journey with math.

Overall, I had a very good experience with this project. I loved learning about Naama’s journey as a mathematician and how it has affected her life as a whole. I would definitely do this project again if it were ever an option.

It was very interesting when Janet Merwin opened up her struggles because mine were very similar to hers. She mentioned that she never was a typical learner. She is more hands on then just sit at a desk for an hour. Which was a past struggle of mine too, so it was comforting to not know I was alone.

## REal LIfe Mathematician Poster

### Zoomed in portions of the poster

## Spring 2020 Real-Life Mathematicians

## (use the Drop Down arrow to show List of Mathematicians)

Tim Antonelli

David Austin

Mario Banuelos

Francesca Bernaldi

Michael Bradley

Uri Bram

Nicole Bridgland

Elisabeth Brown

Sarah Cassie Burnett

Anne Costolanski

Kathi Crow

Mirela Durakovic

Heather Dye

Neville Fogarty

Tim Fraser

David Freund

Kelsey Gasior

Victoria Gershuny

Megan Heenehan

Angela Jarrett

Zack Kenz

Patricia Klein

Christina Koehne

Naama Lewis

Marco Lopez

Chad Mangum

Blake Mellor

Janet Merwin

Kristen Moore

Lauren Nelsen

Anne Paschkopic

Kelly Patton

Marissa Renardy

Michael Robert

Thomas Rogers

Michael Ruddy

Peter Thomas

Christine Uhl

Anila Yadavalli