Along with research and teaching I do quite a bit of outreach (the rest of "service" is a necessary evil of which we will not speak). For me this is any activity which expands peoples' mathematical experience. This includes professional outreach through giving talks and organizing conferences; mentoring postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and other young mathematicians; supporting the involvement of women and other underrepresented groups; involving undergraduate students in research and recreational mathematics; engaging high school students through the OU Math Day; and sharing mathematics with the public through writing and speaking.
I typically give eight to ten research talks each year at conferences and institutions both in the US and abroad. I also commonly host several visitors to OU each year to speak on their own research. In addition I have helped organize several research conferences:
- Algebraic Lie
theory and representation theory (2014)
International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Edinbourgh, Scotland. I was PI on NSF Conference Grant DMS-1406933 to support the participation of young US based mathematicians.
Session on Quantum Groups and Representation Theory (2011)
AMS Fall Central Section Meeting, Lincoln, NE.
Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows
I always enjoy working with young mathematicians. In addition to the graduate students and postdocs which I have directly mentored (see my Graduate Students/Postdocs page), I frequently collaborate with and mentor a wide variety of young researchers in representation theory. If you're such a person, please say hello the next time we cross paths!
I regularly mentor OU undergraduate students on a wide variety research projects (see my Teaching page for details).
During 2008-2013 I was organizer of the OU Math Club and the principal author of the OU Math Club blog (again see my Teaching page). An informal organization, we typically had 20-30 students at each event. While I no longer organize the Math Club, I do still take an interest in supporting their activities and give a Math Club talk each year.
In addition to the usual assortment of math talks, movie nights, and the like, I put a special emphasis on employment opportunities for OU undergrads. I used the Math Club to connect undergraduate students to employers interested in math students. Most undergraduates wait until their last year to look for a job and then only consider the most obvious career choices for mathematics. In the Math Club we had representatives from the FBI, CIA, MSCI, First Bank and Trust, Phillips 66, Wood Group ESP, and others in to talk about why they'd love to have more employees with a strong math background.
I continue to work with Adrienne Jablonski in the Dean's office of the OU College of Arts and Sciences to facilitate networking between OU's math students and employers. In addition to meeting with employers one-on-one, I have served on the faculty panel at the College's annual Employer Recruiter Fair since 2010.
OU Math Day for High School Students
Ever since I arrive at OU in Fall 2007 I have been one of the principal organizers of the OU Math Day. This is an annual outreach event for Oklahoma high school students hosted by the Math Department. In that time it has grown to over three hundred students! To me the most exciting thing is that the OU Math Day draws students from across the academic spectrum - not just the hard-core math types.
Math Day consists of a series of competitions including the ever rambunctious Sooner Math Bowl team event. Past invited speakers include: Henry Segerman, Liz Stanhope, Frank Morgan, Francis Su, Tim Chartier, Michael Orrison, and Alissa Crans.
I believe it is crucially important that the general public experience the fun, exciting, stimulating, and lively aspects of mathematics. Most people won't use or remember much math in their post-school life but I have the hope that they will retain the feeling that math is a dynamic, living subject full of creativity and verve.
Our educational system seems to be designed with a singular devotion to grinding down any such feelings. It is as if English were taught using TV repair manuals while ignoring Ralph Ellison, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, and Joseph Heller. Paul Lockhart's A Mathematician's Lament puts it perfectly.
I have always kept this goal in mind while working with the OU Math Club, OU Math Club blog, and OU Math Day. To me the target audience is the intelligent bystanders who may yet be convinced that math is a worthwhile and interesting field even (and especially!) if they don't end up doing it themselves.
Since the beginning of 2014 I have written a monthly (now bi-monthly) column for the online magazine 3 Quarks Daily. This is a website which bridges the "Two Cultures" divide and I aim to add to that conversation. Click here to read my essays.