Major Mondays: Mathematics

Madelyn and her puppy!

An interview with Madelyn Anderson, senior Math major!

How did you pick your major?

I already knew going into Mudd that I wanted to do some sort of math related thing. I originally declared IPS (Individual Program of Study) sophomore year. I didn’t like the Joint Math- Computer Science major. I wanted to do stats, so I made a statistics major for myself and then took the classes I wanted to take. Junior year I decided I actually just wanted to take math classes. It was really a decision about what I wanted to do for my senior capstone. In order to do thesis I had to do the math major since computer science and Joint Math- Computer Science do clinic. That was a downside of those majors to me since I wanted to do thesis and not clinic.

How has your major advisor been helpful?

My advisor is Prof Williams. She’s been more of a life advisor to me. I’ve just been taking any class I’m interested in, I really haven’t been paying attention to requirements! I like all these classes so I’m going to take the requirements eventually because I’m interested in them.  I’ll just, you know, take whatever I want to take and figure it out from there. She’s been very helpful in figuring out more life advice really.

Have you done any research?

I did research last summer and last spring. I’m currently doing my thesis which is research. I’m not very interested in applied math, I’m more of a pure and theoretical major. Last year, when I started doing research, I did some stuff that was at the intersection of graph theory and algebraic geometry, which I then continued over the summer and I’m now working on writing up into a publication. My thesis research is commutative algebra.

Do you have a favorite non-major class?

That’s hard. My concentration was dance, and I’ve really liked all the dance classes I’ve taken, but I also really liked the literature classes I’ve taken at Mudd. Those have been fun.

Do you have a favorite math class?

No, I’ve liked them all.

Is there anything that has surprised you about the math major?

I feel like I’ve run out of classes as a senior. This is in part because I took as many math classes as I could every year. I prefer math classes to humanities, and so my course loads were very tech heavy. It was fun, it was what I wanted to do. You go so strong for so many years where there’s so many math classes to take, and then suddenly just get to the end. That definitely surprised me, I thought it was going to be like a bottomless thing. It’s good timing, I guess, to kind of hit the end as you’re graduating.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities in the math department?

 I’m actually President of the Women in Math club! We’re trying to bring the club back to life. A lot of the diversity clubs flatlined over the pandemic because it’s really hard to encourage students to come hang out with you when they don’t want to be on zoom anymore. So I’m heavily involved in trying to bring that back; running lunches and we had a speaker come last week. Doing stuff like that.

Do you have plans for after graduation?

Tentatively, yes. I have applied to Grad school, so I can’t say yes for sure, because it depends on whether they accept me. I really like research and I really like taking classes and I want to do more of it. I also love teaching, so I think being a professor in academia is a good career path because these are my favorite things to do. Why not make a job out of it?