I was born in Austin, Minnesota, on March 23, 1972. Including Austin, I have lived in twelve different locations in seven different states in America. My family finally settled down in the small (about 11,000 people) town of La Grande, Oregon. Besides beautiful scenery and several different climates, Oregon has the distinction of being one of the few states with no sales tax. La Grande is home of Eastern Oregon State College, although the primary economy is based on logging via a Boise Cascade plant.
My favorite sport would definitely have to be tennis. Once the bowling alley in La Grande closed, and after they built a dome up at EOSC, tennis even became a viable winter sport for me. Although I enjoy other games like raquetball, ping-pong, baseball, and basketball (listed in decreasing order of competence,) tennis remains my preferred sport.
During the summer following my second year in high school, I got my first job as a serf working at the local McDonald's. It was quite exciting, but alas, it ended after less than a month when I quit. Too exciting.
My next flirtation with employment came the following summer, when I worked at the Union County Fairgrounds doing odd jobs such as painting and setting up sheep pens. During the fair I cleaned up after the animals and after the people. It's still difficult for me to decide which was messier, but at least the animals didn't leave half empty styrofoam cups of beer everywhere.
After finishing high school I moved on to college. I attended a small (about 700 students) engineering school in Claremont, California named Harvey Mudd College. The four years I spent there were way too short in my view.
The summer following my first year at HMC, I got a great job (finally) working with the Chemistry Animation Project (CAP). The goal of this project was to create computer generated videos for use in learning college level chemistry. This was in 1991, the same summer that Terminator 2 came out and computer animation was just starting to enter the public eye. CAP is based at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. I liked the job so much that I went back after my second summer as well.
The third summer I spent in Indiana at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology working on mathematical research under the tutelage of Prof. Gary Sherman. My funding came from a National Science Foundation program called Research Experience for Undergraduates. Various professors from around the country each give their time to give undergrads a few months experience in what research is all about. Gary is a great guy, and it was this summer that convinced me that I wanted to do research.
So when I graduated with a degree in mathematics from HMC, I decided to head off to graduate school. I went to the Operations Research department at Cornell University which turned out to be a great decision. It is a wonderful department with faculty sporting a wide range of interests and a close knit group of students as well. My thesis advisor there was Prof. David Shmoys. After five years at Cornell I received my Ph.D., for work concentrating on Monte Carlo Markov chain methods.
After earning my doctorate, I was awarded a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Mathematical Sciences. I was able to work with Persi Diaconis at Stanford for two years.
After leaving Stanford, I began as an Assistant Professor of Duke University, with a primary appointment in the Department of Mathematics, and a secondary appointment in the Insitute of Statistics and Decision Sciences, which later changed its name to the Department of Statistical Science. This was a valuable learning experience, as this department is the world leader in Bayesian statistics, and their problems dovetailed nicely with my research. During this time I received my first NSF grant: a CAREER award which is given to promising young researchers to help develop there career. It is an honor to have received one (only about ten have ever been given out in probability since they started giving them in this area,) and has made pursuing my research much easier.
Presently I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Claremont McKenna College. CMC is a part of the Claremont University Consortium that Harvey Mudd College also belongs to. I've been to quite a few colleges and universities at this point, and Claremont is unique among American higher education.
The math department in CMC is small, about 10 people. But when you include the departments from the five undergrad and two graduate institutions that make up CUC, you have about fifty mathematicians, more than the about 30 that make up Duke's mathematics department. This makes for a lively community, with weekly talks in all the usual subject areas.
Students are allowed to take courses on any campus they choose, and so far I have had students from Pitzer, Pomona, Harvey Mudd, Scripps, and of course CMC. The college is residential, so all the students live on campus, and small at about 1200 students. The student to faculty ratio is 9 to 1, which is wonderful, and most classes are under 20 students. Add that to the gorgeous southern California weather, and you have a great place to be.
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