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Curriculum Vita
My book at AMS and on Amazon
My music project Modulo/Torsion
About My Research
Quandle Theory
Virtual Knots
Bonus Lecture on Knots and Linear Algebra
My Research Students
My First Article in Notices of the AMS
My Second Article in Notices of the AMS
Claremont Topology Seminar:
Current | Archived
Why Math?
Tips for talks
Theorems and Theories
Guide to being a successful math student
Mathematical Writing Tools


Why am I interested in mathematics? Why should you or anyone else also be interested in studying mathematics? Read my answer.

I am an active researcher in mathematics -- both on my own and in collaboraton with colleagues and students, I solve previously unsolved problems, prove new theorems, publish papers in peer-reviewed academic journals and travel to conferences all over the world to present my work. My research frequently involves students, so if you're a student who's interested in contributing to the current state of the art in mathematical knowledge, feel free to drop by my office, send me an email or chat. I am currently interested in algebraic structures such as quandles and biquandles; these algebraic structures are useful for defining invariants of topological and combinatorial objects.

I am also a serious and passionate teacher of mathematics. Mathematical reasoning is an intellectual technology developed over thousands of years for helping us overcome the limitations of our natural intuition; it is the very core of scientific reasoning and underlies nearly all of the greatest achievements of our species. I am excited to be a part of the grand tradition of passing along our hard-won intellectual technology to future generations. I see teaching and research as two sides of the same coin -- teaching a subject well involves asking the right questions and showing the students how to discover the concepts for themselves, while solving problems is only useful if you can communicate your ideas to others effectively.

I completed my Ph.D. at Louisiana State University in August 2002 and then spent seven years as a visiting assistant professor -- two years at Whittier College, three years at the University of California at Riverside, one year at Pomona College, and one year as a visitor at Claremont McKenna College before switching to tenure-track status at CMC. In 2012 I was promoted to Associate Professor and granted tenure. In 2018 I was promoted to Full Professor and in 2019 I started a term as Chair of the department of Mathematical Sciences at CMC.

I have received Collaboration Grants from the Simons Foundation for 2014-2019 and 2020-2025. I served a 3-year term in the Chair cycle of the SoCal-Nevada section of the Mathematical Association of America. I have co-organized over a dozen special sessions on Algebraic Structures in Knot Theory for the American Mathematical Society and am a member of the Mathematical Society of Japan. I am an associate editor for the Journal of Knot Theory and its Ramifications and for Communications of the Korean Mathematical Society.

My students should read my guide to being a successful student of mathematics.


Copyright © 2003-2020 Sam Nelson