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Math Student & Alumni Stories


Drexel University Math Student Stephen Costa

Stephen Costa, BS Mathematics '19

In the spring of 2017, Stephen Costa and his coworkers at Independence Blue Cross were closely following the debate raging over health care reform. The junior Mathematics and Finance major knew that a new health care policy could affect his work on the company's Medicare Advantage plans — but how?

"Especially early in the year when the plans were being proposed, we didn't know what was going to happen," he says. "How do you create insurance plans when the entire marketplace could change?"
> Read more about Stephen

Drexel University Math Student Vivian Zhou

Vivian Zhou, BS Mathematics and Computer Science '19

Five years ago, I was on a twenty-hour flight from Beijing to Philly. I was excited and full of big dreams, imagining what America and college life would be like. I remember thinking, “I want to change the world one day.”

But the beginning was tougher than I thought. It was my first time in the country, and I didn’t speak English fluently. Most importantly, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was a math major, but didn’t know if I wanted to be a mathematician.

> Read more about Vivian

Drexel Mathematics student Hannah Knarr

Hannah Knarr, BA Mathematics '18

A few weeks into her co-op at Exelon Corporation, Hannah Knarr made her way to the office of a vice president. Armed with a whiteboard and a few dry erase markers, the senior Drexel mathematics major was tasked with explaining, in plain language, complex mathematical concepts relevant to the business. For Knarr, it was already clear that her communication skills were an important part of the value she brought to the Fortune 100 energy provider — and crucial in an environment that often required her to collaborate with coworkers and superiors across the country.

> Read more about Hannah

Drexel University Mathematics Alumni Yilin Yang

Yilin Yang, BS Mathematics '17

This article appeared in the 2015 issue of the College of Arts and Sciences' Ask magazine.

The sub-metropolis of Tianjin, China is home to a bustling port and a multitude of urban developments and structures. Not unlike Philadelphia, it has a rich history in arts, politics and trade. In fact, Tianjin is located at the same elevation as Philly, making their climates similar and adaptable to anyone migrating between the two cities. It was for these reasons — and the opportunity to live within walking distance of the legendary Philadelphia Orchestra — that Yilin Yang, a young, starry-eyed student from Tianjin, decided to cross the ocean to study mathematics at Drexel University.

> Read more about Yilin


Tayler Pangburn, PhD Candidate

Drexel University Math Student Tayler Pangburn

Degree: PhD Candidate (5th year student)
Hometown: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Research Interests: partial differential equations and numerical analysis, specifically homogenization theory and inverse problems
Accepted Publication: “Scattering by a bounded highly oscillating periodic medium and the effect of boundary correctors”, SIAM Journal of Applied Mathematics

From a young age, math has been my number one interest in school. I enjoyed solving problems both in and out of the classroom. It was no surprise to my family and friends when I started my undergraduate career in mathematics at Drexel University in 2011. Throughout that time, I took any opportunity I found to dive deeper into the theory. During my research with Dr. Pavel Grinfeld as a STAR Scholar, I learned the importance of numerical methods in mathematics and fell in love with how theoretical and numerical analysis could work together to solve any problem you could fathom. At that moment, I knew I would want to continue my research career as a PhD student and was happy to do so at Drexel starting in 2015.

> Read more about Tayler

Drexel University Math Student Stephen Costa

Paul Reine Kennett Dela Rosa, PhD Candidate

Degree: PhD Candidate (4th year student)
Research Interests: Eigenvalues of a submatrix; numerical ranges and its properties; isometries associated with a scalar product
Awards: Research Excellence Award 2018 (Pre-Candidacy)
Extracurricular Activities: cooking, drawing, learning languages, playing boardgames and running

What sparked your interest in your research?

I don’t know why, but there’s something about matrices that I find fascinating. Hence, I wanted my thesis problem to be in the area of Matrix Analysis. Professor Hugo J. Woerdeman of the math department likes Matrix Analysis too, being an expert on it (among the many areas in which he’s an expert). Because of this, it was only natural that I asked him to direct my thesis.

> Read more about Paul

Drexel University Doctoral Candidate Dominick Macaluso

Dominick Macaluso, PhD Candidate

My experience as a graduate student:

I am a PhD Candidate in my third year. I arrived at Drexel in the Fall of 2017 to pursue a PhD in mathematics. Having already acquired a master's degree in Mathematics and having taught high school math for three years, I felt that I knew what to expect in regards to my journey that I was about to embark on. What I didn't expect is the amount of growth that I would experience in regard to not only my mathematical skill, reasoning and fluency, but also in my teaching ability that I thought was already very seasoned when I arrived!

> Read more about Dominick


Drexel University Doctoral Candidate Dominick Macaluso

Sarah G. Rody, PhD Mathematics ‘17

Current Position: Assistant Professor, Chestnut Hill College

I came to Drexel knowing that I wanted to become a professor at a teaching-focused institution. Drexel prepared me very well for this career and I am now an assistant professor at Chestnut Hill College. Drexel's classes gave me a solid background in a wide variety of classes that I can now teach. I was even able to take a few computer science classes. As a teaching assistant, I was able to go from teaching a course coordinated by a professor to preparing and teaching my own course. I was given enough experience in a diverse set of classes to feel confident in my first year as a professor. As a researcher, I was able to find work I found interesting with a great adviser. My research was also accessible enough that I can now work on parts of it with undergraduate students.

Beyond excellent career preparation, Drexel also provided a wonderful environment for me to develop as a mathematician. From working on homework to studying for our qualifying exams together, there was always a great spirit of collaboration among the students. The professors were always approachable, especially at tea-time, and I never felt bad asking a question. Drexel was a wonderful program for me, and I hope to one day send a student there.

Drexel University Doctoral Candidate Dominick Macaluso

Michael Minner, PhD Mathematics ‘16

Current Position: Senior Member of Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories

Mathematics has been a passion of mine since an early age. More than just arithmetic and memorization, mathematics is a language that enables us to analyze the complexities of the world around us. In my current position, I often face problems that are ill-posed, ambiguous, and depend on far too many parameters, yet they can have significant impacts on the country. Reframing and scoping these “hard problems” into tractable problems, deriving actionable solutions, and informing decision-makers of the impacts of each potential option are essential to success.

The curriculum at Drexel, particularly the rigorous analysis and PDE classes, provide the skills to reframe complex problems. Instructors in the mathematics department encourage students to think outside the box and consider all options when developing solutions. Additionally, the opportunities to teach various levels of graduate mathematics classes, as well as attend and present at conferences around the world, hone the communication skills needed to engage and inform subject matter experts and non-technical stakeholders alike. I am grateful for the experiences I had in the mathematics program, the support of the department, and the opportunity to apply what I have learned to problems that have meaningful impact to the country and the world.