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Meet Brad Greene

Drexel University Math Student Brad Greene

Degree: BS Mathematics '18, Minor in Astrophysics
Research Interests: Algebraic topology, representation theory, mathematical physics
Extracurricular Activities: Math Resource Center tutor, hiking, traveling
Awards: Robert J. Bickel scholarship

Brad Greene’s math major has taught him the value of pushing through challenges — in college and in life.

Tell us about your recent courses and experiences in the math major. What have you most enjoyed?

In the fall, I took Topology, Elements of Modern Analysis, Combinatorics, and Observational Astrophysics. Topology was my second graduate-level math course and probably the course I had most looked forward to taking. While it was challenging, I have found that the most challenging courses at Drexel have been the most rewarding. In Analysis, which is a requirement for all math majors, I learned fundamental proofs that every mathematician must be familiar with.

In addition to taking these courses and studying for the GRE, I also worked at Drexel’s Math Resource Center as a math tutor. Working with other students at the MRC, I often benefit as much as they do. Between thinking of how to better explain mathematical principles and looking back at areas I’ve become rusty in, I am able to also learn something and deepen my own understanding.

What is one thing a faculty member has told you that stuck with you?

This past summer, I was working on my independent study in Representation Theory and my professor asked me how it was going. I said something like, “Well, I’m pretty stuck. I’ve been staring at this page trying to figure out this proof for about two hours.” To which he replied, “Only two hours?” This may sound short and unhelpful, but it was quite the opposite. The point is, math is difficult for everyone. At times, it’s easy to get discouraged when working on a problem I don’t even know how to start. His comment reminded me that everyone, even mathematicians, struggle with math; it’s just part of the process of learning.

What motivates you?

Acquiring a greater knowledge of mathematics motivates me. Before coming to Drexel, I had taken several years off from school. During that time, I began wondering about our place in the universe and developed an interest in astronomy and physics. This started with documentaries and YouTube videos, followed by popular physics books and eventually more technical concepts related to theoretical astrophysics. I decided to go back to school for physics, but after two terms, I realized I actually wanted to pursue pure math. My initial interest in physics stemmed from a curiosity about what the most fundamental truths of our universe are, and I now think that they are mathematical truths.

Real-world applications aside, math should be appreciated in and of itself for its eloquent construction. I think the physicist-mathematician Miranda Cheng said it best in an interview with Quanta Magazine. She was describing the beauty of math and comparing it to the beauty of art or music.

She says, “Typically a song is beautiful because it triggers certain emotions. It resonates with part of your life. Mathematical beauty is not that. It’s something much more structured. It gives you a feeling of something much more permanent, and independent of you. It makes me feel small, and I like that.”

What are some of your interests outside of school?

Outside of Drexel and mathematics, I like going on hikes with family and friends. Just as in academics, I usually have to push myself to keep going on a hike, but the end result is always worth it. For the last three years, I have traveled abroad for two weeks with a small group of friends between the summer and fall terms. This year we went to Florence, Italy, and Mallorca, Spain. I always look forward to learning more about the cultures, customs and traditions of the places I visit, and experiencing how large and diverse the world is.