What have you done after graduating from Bryn Mawr?
The year after I graduated from Bryn Mawr in 2009, I completed Part III of the Mathematical Tripos at the University of Cambridge on a Churchill Scholarship. This earned me a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Pure Mathematics. Then I went to UCLA to earn my Ph.D. in mathematics, specifically algebraic number theory, with Professor Haruzo Hida. I finished my Ph.D. in 2016 and am now an NSF postdoc and Fulbright grantee at Université Paris 13 working with Professor Jacques Tilouine. Next year I will be a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, Germany.
How did your math experience at Bryn Mawr prepare you for your current position and life after Bryn Mawr?
I use the skills I learned as a math major literally every day. My work consists of reading and writing mathematical papers, proving theorems, and giving mathematics lectures. I began honing all of these skills as a student at Bryn Mawr. I also use the content of nearly all the math courses I took at Bryn Mawr, including linear algebra, abstract algebra, analysis, and topology. I can't overstate how critical the math major at Bryn Mawr has been as a foundation for what I do today.
What aspects of the math major did you enjoy or find particularly useful?
Algebra and number theory were always my favorite subjects at Bryn Mawr, and that informed my mathematical trajectory after I left. I was particularly intrigued by elliptic curves toward the end of my time at Bryn Mawr and was happy to be able to learn more about them at my time in Cambridge. My understanding of elliptic curves formed the foundation for much of my research today. The thesis experience at Bryn Mawr was one of my favorite experiences as a math major. I loved my weekly meetings with my advisor and her graduate number theory seminar.
Are there any memories of the Bryn Mawr Math Department that you would like to share with our current students and/or prospective students?
I could write a book filled with my memories of the BMC Math Department. They were like a family to me, both when I was there and after I left. I was a big fan of DMC and spent many hours learning math, playing fish, and laughing there. loved the weekly bi-co colloquium, even though I couldn't really understand what was going on most of the time. I spent countless hours in the math lounge working on problem sets and harassing professors whose doors were always open. I loved learning math with the BMC graduate students, both when they were my TAs and when I was in graduate classes with them. Since leaving Bryn Mawr, I have given math talks at lots of exciting places — UC Berkeley, MIT, Imperial College London — but the one I was most excited for was when I got to go back to Bryn Mawr in 2016 to give a talk at DMC. It felt like coming home.
Do you have any advice for current or prospective math majors?
Take as much math as you can while you're at Bryn Mawr. Challenge yourself like crazy, but also take advantage of the support (both mathematical and emotional) that the professors and graduate students offer. Take the second semester of abstract algebra, and TA for the lower-level linear algebra at the same time; this was how I really came to understand linear algebra. Practice communicating (writing and speaking) mathematics until you excel in these areas. (Hint: Go to DMC!) These technical communication skills will be valuable whatever you end up doing after college. Do an REU to find out if you enjoy mathematics research. Do a senior thesis; the faculty at Bryn Mawr are awesome and you will get some great one-on-one mentoring from them this way. If you are at all considering graduate school in mathematics, take all the graduate classes you can, including seminars. This will help you decide whether math graduate school is for you, and if it is, these courses will be absolutely necessary background for graduate school. Finally, appreciate the Bryn Mawr math department while you're there! I know it will be stressful at times, but you are at one of the best and most supportive departments in the world!