My love for maths began in first grade with the math games that we played every day after lunch. Obviously, the math that was a part of those games was quite different from the math I am currently studying. However, those games, combined with my desire to win, jump-started my passion for math. In third grade, I tested into the advanced math track that began in the fourth grade and lasted through high school. As time went on, I began to stand out in these math classes and my enjoyment of math continued to grow. In seventh, I started competing in math competitions and continued to enjoy the challenge they presented me as well as the success I had in competitions. At that point in time, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to study mathematics at the collegiate level and eventually become a professor. Because I was good at math and enjoyed it so much, majoring in math seemed like the logical thing to do. I had never really considered anything else.
Entering college, I began as a math major in the honours program with no additional majors. During my freshman year, I had an outstanding physics professor, Dr Robert Perry, whose interest in me led to my decision to double major in math and physics. Thanks to Dr Perry, I was able to get physics research opportunities after both my freshman and sophomore years. Without his influence and guidance, I never would have thought about doing research that early in my college career. The two summers of physics research taught me many things, but one more important than the rest—that more advanced study in physics and research in that area has less appeal to me than continuing my study of math. Through my work in physics, I realized that it is math’s elegance, beauty, and preciseness that draw me to it. In both physics research and physics classes, we have made many approximations—working in frictionless environments, looking only at dipole effects in electric fields, leaving off interactions when quantizing the hydrogen atom. I dislike these approximations. It is the exact nature of pure math that I love and the reason I want to study maths at the doctoral level.
During the first quarter of my junior year at The Ohio State University, the Abstract Algebra course taught by Dr Ronald Solomon piqued my interest more than any other course had up until that point due to its dealing with mathematical objects. To me, this was a new, interesting, unique way of looking at the math. This topic helped to show me how diverse math is as a field of study which in turn began to solidify the idea in my mind that math was something I could enjoy spending my life studying. This past summer, I was given an opportunity to do math research. The group I worked with looked into flows on simplicial complexes. Due to a communication error between the students in the group and the advisor, I was able to learn a very important lesson in research: read, read, read. While I may not have found any useful results mathematically, I did find a useful result personally: I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the math research, much more than I did the physics research the previous two summers.
Given that I am majoring in physics in addition to math, I have not been able to take as many math electives as the majority of math majors. For this reason, I do not yet have well-defined research interests. Thus, I am looking to attend a graduate school with a fairly large math department with faculty doing research in a variety of areas, something that The Ohio State University will be able to offer me. Because it was an
algebra course that piqued my interest, I do have some interest in furthering my knowledge in that area. Because the research I did this past summer in topology was enjoyable, I would also like to learn more about topology, too. The combinatorics class that I am currently enrolled in has been designed to show that combinatorial methods are applicable to many different fields of mathematics, thus, combinatorics would also be a desirable field of study due to its ability to allow me to continue to do work in many different fields. Simply put, I have a diverse set of mathematical interests and, thus, I am seeking a large, diverse program in which to work.
My educational goal is to complete a PhD. It is not, however, the degree that drives me but the math. I want to learn as much as I can about mathematics and to do my personal best to make a contribution to mathematics so that others can build on this work to further advance the study of math. I realize the best way to do this is by furthering my studies in a good graduate program. My professional goal is to make a contribution to math and to help spread my love of math to others. Thus, I would love to become a research mathematician and professor. Within the past year, I have had the opportunity to experience both teachings (as a teaching assistant) and participating in math research. I can see myself doing both for the rest of my life.
I believe I am prepared to pursue a PhD for one simple reason: I have always wanted to pursue a PhD. At first, the reason was quite juvenile. I had a competitive spirit and simply wanted to be the best at everything I did. I wanted to be in the best classes, I wanted to get the best grades, and I wanted to get the highest possible degree in my field. However, as time has passed, my reason has evolved. In middle school and high school, because I enjoyed helping my peers with their math homework, my desired career became an educator. Since I knew I could not put up with teaching anyone younger than college-aged, I wanted to become a professor. Hence, getting a PhD became a means to an end. Finally, I got to college, and my reason for wanting to pursue a PhD evolved even more. While I have always enjoyed math, my love for it has grown even more since entering college. Before college, math classes were sequential. Every course is built off of the previous one. In college, I have been able to see the various branches of math and the connections that exist between them that make math complex and interesting. Thus, I now want to pursue a PhD out of my love and curiosity for math. The other reasons are still present. I still want to be the best in everything I do, and I still want to be a professor, but my main reason for wanting to pursue a PhD is to learn as much as I can about the subject I love so much.