Math Whizzes

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CATEGORY: Academics
TYPE: Articles
RELATED PROGRAMS: Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science

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Published in Macalester Today

Data is exploding in every field, but it’s worthless if not appropriately organized and examined. Many math majors are preparing to do just that, and after graduating from Mac are being admitted to top statistics, biostatistics, and other graduate programs—from Harvard to Stanford.

The graduates in such demand are math majors who have chosen the Applied Mathematics and Statistics (AMS) track. Last spring the department graduated 18 AMS majors with plenty more in the pipeline—27 additional students have declared the major. This reflects robust growth for a program that graduated its first majors just four years ago.

“The AMS major appealed to me because I could address real-world questions and support my thoughts with quantitative results,” says Taylor Rasmussen ’13 (Eagan, Minn.). “The professors in the department are not only incredibly intelligent, but also willing and able to help.” After graduation, he hopes to work in marketing.

“Our department has a long and strong tradition of ‘mathematics in service,’” says Professor Karen Saxe, department chair from 2007 to 2013, “but the program would not be nearly as strong without support from, and constant collaboration with, our colleagues in economics, biology, and others in the natural, physical, and social sciences.”

“Macalester students are interested in addressing the world’s big problems, such as disease eradication and sustainable energy development.”

Sasha Indarte ’13 (Minneapolis) used her knowledge to model the Spanish economy, bringing home the “best paper” award from Carroll Round, a prestigious international economics conference in Washington, D.C. This fall she enters a PhD economics program at Northwestern University.

“Macalester students are interested in addressing the world’s big problems, such as disease eradication and sustainable energy development,” says Saxe. “The ability to interpret large amounts of data and create mathematical models is essential.”

The department is especially strong, says Saxe, because it’s a joint one, bringing together faculty with PhDs in mathematics, statistics, and computer science with colleagues whose backgrounds are in engineering and applied math—unusual in a liberal arts school, Saxe adds.

PUBLISHED: 08/01/2013