BS Mathematics, 1999
Morehead State University
PhD Applied Mathematics, 2003
When I was growing up, my favorite classes were math and English. In high school, the accomplishment I felt after writing an essay about some English classic was the same sense of accomplishment I felt when I got to the end of a one-page calculus problem. My high school calculus teacher tried to talk me into taking the AP exam, but I told her I didn't want to since I knew I wanted to take calculus in college and I was nervous about starting out in Calc II.
I started Morehead State University in 1995 as an accounting major with law school visions in my head. At the time, business majors were not required to take calculus, but I begged the math department chair to let me in his already full 8:00 am calculus class. That was possibly a life-changing moment. If I hadn't gotten into calculus my first semester, I would have probably just settled for filling my schedule with more business classes. I may have never tried to get into another calculus class. But that was not to be! Instead, I continued taking math classes and decided to drop my advanced accounting course when it was taking too much time away from my introduction to proofs course. I truly had no idea what I could do with a math degree, which scared my family to death. But, I trusted my teachers and advisor who assured me that I could get a non-teaching job with a math degree because I had no interest in teaching. With the encouragement and support of the Morehead math faculty, I secured positions in two Research Experiences for Undergraduates and one Undergraduate Research Semester program at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). While at LANL, I worked on a project for the FBI concerning a purely voice-based technique for lie detection. The semester spent at LANL was also a life-changing event. While I had already been applying for graduate programs, the experience at LANL solidified in my mind that I wanted to do research in applied mathematics and pursue a PhD.
After graduating from Morehead State, I started my graduate work at Virginia Tech in 1999. As a teaching assistant, I had the opportunity to teach calculus classes with full responsibility. I fell in love with teaching and realized that I wanted to teach college level mathematics upon completion of my degree. I was a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Mathematics, and my dissertation was in the area of design and simulation of low order controllers for systems governed by partial differential equations. In order to add an experimental dimension to my research, I accepted a postdoctoral position in Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University in 2004. I worked with an aerodynamicist on modeling, control, and simulation of unmanned micro air vehicles.
After my postdoctoral position, I accepted a tenure track Assistant Professor position in Mathematics and Statistics at Louisiana Tech University. I am part of a college that is built upon an interdisciplinary approach to research and education. In my new environment, my research interests have broadened to include dynamic modeling of biological and physical systems and integrated approaches to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Besides teaching undergraduate and graduate mathematics courses, I advise graduate students and participate in outreach and service activities. My position is research intensive, so I spend a significant amount of time writing grant proposals to support my research, conducting research activities – both individual and collaborative efforts, and writing research results for journal publication. My position offers a balance of teaching and research activities and allows me to couple two of my long-standing passions: mathematics and writing.