The College of Sciences and Humanities boasts many successful alumni who are using their skills to contribute to professions within their field. We celebrate their successes and the preparation of a Ball State education in our Cardinal Directions series.

Meet Ellen Weld

Ellen Weld graduated from Ball State in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree from the Department of Mathematical Sciences. She then completed her doctorate at Purdue University.  Ellen has recently joined the ranks of academia and is using her expertise to train the next generation of scholars and pursue research in her field.

 

(The following is a transcript of her interview responses)

Tell us about your current job.

I am currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. My job is split between teaching and conducting research. This semester has been more heavily focused on addressing classroom instruction, which has been made more difficult than usual due to the current global circumstances.

What is the most fulfilling part of your job?

The most fulfilling part of my job is being able to produce educational material for my students. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to create my own lesson plans and supplemental documents

What are the most valuable skills you learned as a math major? How have they helped you post-graduation?

As a math major, I learned how to think through problems and then how to communicate those thoughts. These two skills have helped me be an effective problem-solver, team member, and instructor. After I graduated from Ball State, I used these skills to work with others in grad school and to pursue my own projects.

Is there a particular Ball State class or professional opportunity that you had a big impact on you?

When I was an undergrad at Ball State, I was able to participate in a paid research opportunity with my mentor Dr. John Lorch. To prepare for this opportunity, I took a linear algebra class with Dr. Lorch which completely changed my outlook on math and caused me to change my major from Math Ed to just Math. This totally altered the course of my future career and I am so grateful for these experiences.

What advice do you have for math majors?

I would say take advantage of being able to talk with your professors. Not every university offers the chance to work directly with the math faculty and it is a great opportunity to learn about math research and general math opportunities.

Why did you decide to pursue an academic life? Is there an area of research that particularly compelled you?

I pursued academia because I would be able to teach and do research. Not every job provides you the opportunity to do both and I don’t really want to choose between them.

I study C*-algebras which arise from discrete amenable groups. I am currently interested in C*-rigidity of Bieberbach groups.

Do you have an advice for math majors who are contemplating graduate school with a goal of “Becoming professor”?

I would say that the academic job market is tough now and will only become tougher. As you go through grad school, pick up programming skills and think about learning a fair bit about probability, statistics, and differential equations. From what I’ve seen, knowing these things will make you more interesting to potential employers.

 

Congratulations on your career success, Ellen! Chirp, chirp!

To learn more about the Department of Mathematical Sciences and its programs, please visit their website. To stay up to date on news and events, follow them on Facebook or visit their blog. For questions, please email the department at mathsci@bsu.edu.