Interview with Julie Blackwood


Blackwood tells Herrera about her experience with mathematics and ecology.

How did you get interested in applying mathematics to ecology?

When I was applying for college, I had to apply to a major before I went to college. I was looking through the majors, and I saw applied math, and I thought, “Not bad. Check.” Later my professor said, “Well, why don’t you think about applications of math to biology?” When I went to grad school, I tried out neurobiology, microbial biology, and molecular biology, and finally ecology again and loved it.

Did you do any research as an undergraduate?

Yes. When I was an undergrad, I did two REUs [Research Experiences for Undergraduates]. The first one was based on immunology. I took a class and did some research on a topic. The following summer I was in the Math and Theoretical Biology Institute, where I studied spatial spread of influenza. That was my first encounter with math and ecology. That’s what planted the seed in my head, but it took me a while to determine that I wanted to pursue it.

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Hats, Parties, and Driving Cars (Mathematical Puzzles/Riddles, Part III)

Hi, and happy (late) new year! The holidays are drawing to a close (or have already closed) and classes are starting (or have already started). In case you don’t want to think about all of that, here are some more neat puzzles/riddles on the usual subjects (hats, etc.) Enjoy!

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Making the Transition from Liberal Arts to Graduate School

When I started graduate school, I found myself in an unexpected minority: I was the only student in my cohort of 12 who had gotten my math major at a small liberal arts college. Everyone else had gone to a university, and many had already taken graduate level courses.

I had never questioned my decision to study math at a liberal arts institution. I loved the fact that my classmates and friends (and professors!) had such varied interests, such as the classics, philosophy, music, and art, and that these subjects were often woven together into interdisciplinary courses. I appreciated my small classes that fostered conversation with classmates and close contact with professors. I didn’t realize what I could have benefited from at a larger school: a deeper pool of math classes (at the undergraduate and graduate levels) from which to choose, as well as graduate students who I could look up to, learn from, and emulate.

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Interview with Leo Goldmakher



Goldmakher tells Ai about the importance of creativity and ownership in mathematics.

How did you get interested in mathematics?

When I was in 7th grade, in Boston, I enrolled in an experimental program called The Math Circle, where students discover math on their own. We, the students, came up with all sorts of ideas about number theory, argued with each other, proposed conjectures, shot each other down, and eventually came up with all sorts of proofs. No one told us these thingswe made them up. Turns out other people had discovered them earlier, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that we owned themthey were ours because we invented them! This experience showed me that math was creative and could be created by me. From then on, I was totally hooked.  

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Starting the New Semester Off Right

The start of the semester is a new beginning- a chance to start over with better study habits, a new routine, and a range of new classes, teaching, and research possibilities. If your good habits started to slip at the end of last semester, here are some suggestions for how to start off the new semester right.

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