PhD! … plus epsilon

I’m sure you’re wondering “What’s epsilon?” You may just be wondering what do I mean when I add a Greek letter to a title like a PhD. If you’re a mathematician, you probably guessed I mean that I have my PhD, and some small quantity of time has passed (and in that case, well done!). But you’re still wondering “what’s epsilon?” By epsilon I mean a number that is a couple of months less than 2 years. I couldn’t call it a “post-doc” blog because I am technically not a post-doc and never was (even though I am just “post” my “doc”).

In May of 2009 I got my PhD in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. Soon after, I started a tenure-track position at Bates College. In case you’re wondering, Bates is a small, private, liberal arts college located in Lewiston, Maine. I will be telling you more about Bates as an institution in these blog posts. I will be writing about some of the challenges I’ve encountered while teaching (I have found myself volunteering to teach a new course pretty much every semester, which it turns out is a bad idea), attempting to do research (even though the bigger emphasis is on teaching, Bates still expects a relatively productive research agenda – not at the level of a top research institution, but I have to publish much more than just my thesis if I expect to get tenure), and the lesser known aspect of “service” (which so far has involved membership in a committee that doesn’t need to meet – I imagine that will change soon enough). I also imagine I will get a chance to talk about some interesting math (although there are plenty of blogs for that), interesting “professor-y” life experiences, conferences, giving invited talks, writing about math for a general public, reviewing math papers, writing math papers, trying to get students to be excited about math, the joys of commuting, the joys of commuting in the middle of a snowstorm, being a Venezuelan in Maine, etc.

This is not my first blog (I blogged for the AMS during the Joint Mathematics Meetings in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011), but it’s the first time I will be writing about my experiences as an “early career mathematician”. This is somehow simultaneously exciting and terrifying (although if you know me, and if you’re reading my first post you probably do, you know I love things that are simultaneously exciting and terrifying – and parenthetical statements).

I hope you all enjoy this weekly blog (or as my grandmother would call it, my “blob”), where I will share my experiences in becoming a grown-up mathematician. And maybe even some of you will find it useful as you make your own transitions into math adulthood.

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8 Responses to PhD! … plus epsilon

  1. Bonnie Shulman says:

    This is great! Ed Aboufadel had a series like this many years back in FOCUS, and it was cool, but it didn’t have the immediacy of a blog — nor the experiences of a *female* mathematician! Looking forward to your posts.

  2. Steph says:

    As a non-mathematical attorney type, I can’t comment intelligently on your blog. I can, however, comment on your photo! Love the shirt. I have one just like it. I call it my “I Love Bill shirt.”

    Speaking of Bill, I’m going to recommend that he follow your blog. I believe that he is facing many of the same challenges in his new position (especially with teaching new classes, etc.).

  3. Mike says:

    Love it!

  4. Stu says:

    Cool!! Can’t wait to read more!

  5. Thomas says:

    Being a curious autodidact browsing and reading in aritmetic geometry, I’d enjoy it if you write about new developments in your research interests. E.g. I wonder what makes some arithmetic geometers apparently interested in conformal field theory (if that impresion should be correct).

  6. surya says:

    good start, love it. will be back time and again.

  7. Kristjan says:

    “PhD plus epsilon” – I thought that you will start your PhD and you will do something very small in addition to it which would be the blog 😉

  8. kurt turing says:

    If you need to explain somebody what does “plus epsilon” means, surely that one is not mathematician !!!

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