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“Diversifying the student population at Mudd is crucial to making this place a home for everyone.”

David U

minsky ’03 credits



all Convocation speaker David Uminsky ’03 began his undergraduate years at the University of Pennsylvania, then transferred to HMC. While here, David mentored local students as part of the Upward Bound program, an experience, he said, that

inspired him to serve in outreach programs (he’s currently working with SACNAS/Advancing Hispanics/Chicanos & Native Americans in Science). After graduating with a mathematics degree, David went on to earn a Ph.D. at Boston University. Now at UCLA, he is both a UC Presidents Fellow and an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow studying the mathematics of swarming and fluid flow. In his talk on Sept. 30 (excerpted below), David credits his success, in part, to the diverse scientific and humanitarian education he received at Mudd. Happy to the Core. You’ll be extraordinarily happy to have such

diverse science knowledge when you graduate from Mudd. After Mudd, I went to graduate school right away, and I thought I’d spend four to six years learning some more math, maybe some new theorems, or learning something beautiful about factorial representation, and leave the Core behind me as a very nice memory. But that is not how things turned out at all. Perhaps it was because…I always found something interesting in physics, chemistry, technology, engineering that kept me fascinated about the connection of those subjects to mathematics. These diverse skills from Mudd’s Core found their way into my graduate school experience. For example, engineering worked its way in quite early in graduate

school. My advisor and I were working on some nice theoretical results on vortex dynamics when two mechanical engineers at BU caught wind of our work and called. They thought we could use our theory to better identify the type of submarines by the sound of the

wave. My advisor asked, “Do you feel comfortable working with engineers? I didn’t think twice...Spending four years here made me very comfortable with the people, the literature and the thought process [of engineering]. So, I said, “Sure. Why not?” It was a good choice, it turns out, because the solution to that problem, both theoretical and practical, turned into a large part of my dissertation. That experience also launched my research program into an interdisciplinary direction that I had no idea it was going to go. Several other disciplines from the Core crossed my research path as well. Interdisciplinary results. It was really this diverse and broad curriculum

that allowed me to comfortably convert my mathematical research and abilities into still other fields. In fact, my interdisciplinary work doesn’t stop with just chemistry or engineering; I worked on several projects in quantum electrodynamics and quantum chromodynamics; thank you, physics depart- ment. I also got involved in mentoring undergraduate research; very similar to the opportunities you will have here in the area of mathematical microbiology. Thank you, biology department. I don’t want to leave out computer science... that one java course I took made all the difference because then you can learn anything else...So thank you, Computer Science Department. A diverse future. For the first time ever, as Dean Cave pointed out, this

class has more women than men. This is both remarkable and long overdue. Mudd has also made some strides in raising the [numbers of] traditionally underrepresented groups here...Diversifying the student population at Mudd is crucial to making this place a home for everyone. Different points of view are so critical to both breaking new ground in interdisciplinary science and for building strong leaders, one of Mudd’s core philosophies. If Mudd doesn’t reflect the gender background and culture of our society, then how can we expect to train students to be great leaders of that same society?

F A L L /WI N T E R 2 0 1 0 H a r v e y Mu d d C o l l e g e 2 7

much of his success to Mudd

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