The BYU Department of Mathematics is working to help inspire young people to study mathematics by producing a series of several high-quality, short films about careers and opportunities in mathematics. The introductory segment has already been produced, and you can view it here or by downloading it below.
Each of the remaining films will highlight a specific career area in mathematics by featuring people who work in that career, what they do, why they like their job, what kind of problems they work on, and how they came to work in that career.
The Films Here is the current outline of some of the films we plan to produce in this series:
Introduction/trailer We Use Math: Purpose, Opportunity, Success
We Use Math to Make Things Better, Faster, and Cheaper
We Use Math to Have Fun
Please feel free to redistribute these films for non-commercial use.
The Goal: boost interest and enrollments in mathematics Our primary goal is to substantially boost the number of students studying mathematics at every level and thereby increase the number of well-qualified, technically skilled workers in America. To accomplish this we plan to do the following:
Get every high school mathematics student in America to see these films and
Get every student who sees one of the films to walk away saying, "The people in that film have great jobs, working for great companies, doing exciting things, using mathematics. I want to do that, too."
To reach as many high school and college students as possible, we plan to make the film series easy and attractive for math teachers to use in their classrooms. Among other things, we hope to send a free copy of the whole series on DVD to every high school math teacher in the country, make the films freely available from our website WeUseMath.org, and post the films on other streaming media sites like Yahoo Video and YouTube.
Bios Jessica Purcell, mathematics professor
Jessica Purcell, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of mathematics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Her areas of interest include three-dimensional manifolds, hyperbolic geometry and knot theory.
Dr. Purcell earned her Ph.D. in mathematics from Stanford University after receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Utah and the University of Michigan, respectively. She taught at Stanford University and the University of Texas at Austin before joining the faculty at Brigham Young University.
Jeff Stewart, energy researcher
Jeff Stewart is the program leader for the Western Region Energy Analysis Consortium at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.
Gus Hart, physics professor
Gus Hart, Ph.D. is an associate professor of physics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. His interests include solid state physics, alloys and materials research.
Dr. Hart received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Davis after earning degrees in Japanese and physics from Brigham Young University. He has done research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.
Ira Pramanick, software engineer
Ira Pramanick, Ph.D., is a staff software engineer on Google’s analytics team. Dr. Pramanick has held positions with various high-tech companies in the Silicon Valley, including IBM and Sun Microsystems. She has also worked at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
She holds a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Iowa and a B. Tech. in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology.
Tyler Jarvis, mathematics professor
Tyler Jarvis, Ph.D., chairs the Department of Mathematics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He teaches courses in geometry, algebra and calculus and performs research in algebraic geometry relating to moduli spaces of curves.
Dr. Jarvis received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton University after earning master’s degrees in mathematics from Princeton and Brigham Young universities and his bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from BYU.
Zachary Vorhies, software engineer
Zach Vorhies works as a computer programmer with Google, Inc., where he optimizes graphic performance in software development. Previous to his position at Google, he has held computer engineering positions with LucasArts in San Francisco, California, and Pipeworks Software in Eugene, Oregon.
He studied computer science, mathematics and psychology at the University of Oregon.
Helen Moore, scientist
Helen Moore, Ph.D., is a senior scientist providing modeling and simulation for biotechnology and pharmaceutical company Pharsight in Mountain View, California. Her research entails mathematical modeling of diseases for optimizing drug therapies. Prior to working at Pharsight, she held a similar position with Genentech, and taught at Stanford University in California and Bowdoin College in Maine. She has also served as associate director of the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM), based in Palo Alto, California.
Dr. Moore holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from SUNY Stony Brook and graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics at UNC in Chapel Hill.
Dennis Tolley, actuary
Dennis Tolley, Ph.D., teaches courses in actuarial science and statistics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He has also taught at the University of North Carolina, Duke University and Texas A&M University, and has performed research at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, as well as at universities in Japan and China.
Dr. Tolley holds a bachelor’s degree in statistics from Brigham Young University and earned his Ph.D. in biostatistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to his academic degrees, he became an associate of the Society of Actuaries in 1981.
Daniel Faissol, bioscience researcher
Dan Faissol, Ph.D., does research involving medical treatment of disease at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.
Dr. Faissol holds a Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Carol Meyers, security analyst
Carol Meyers, Ph.D., works in the Engineering Directorate within the Systems and Decision Sciences section of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. Her career field includes optimization and probabilistic modeling in support of projects in counterterrorism and stockpile stewardship.
Dr. Meyers earned her Ph.D. in operations research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to studying at MIT, she earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Pomona College in California.
Shane Reese, statistics professor
Shane Reese teaches courses in statistics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Previous to working at BYU, Dr. Reese worked as a statistical scientist and taught at Iowa State University. He also did nuclear weapons research at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. His research interests include sports statistics, and Bayesian hierarchical models and design.
Shane earned his Ph.D. in statistics from Texas A&M University after earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in statistics from Brigham Young University.
David Bailey, technologist
David Bailey, Ph.D., does computational research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. His research involves high-performance computing, and computational and experimental mathematics.
Dr. Bailey earned his bachelor’s and his Ph.D. degrees, both in mathematics, from Brigham Young University and from Stanford University, respectively.
Xabier Garaizar, defense analyst
Xabier Garaizar, Ph.D., is the deputy director of the Center for Applied Scientific Computing at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Dr. Garaizar’s research interests include the analysis and development of algorithms for the solution of systems of partial differential equations.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of the Basque Country and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Michigan.
The most common question students ask math teachers at every level is “When will I use math?” WeUseMath.org is a non-profit website that helps to answer this question. This website describes the importance of mathematics and many rewarding career opportunities available to students who study mathematics.
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