LAS Math and Computer Science Panel

Brian Mackley

To kick off day two of LAS week Student Volunteers set up a faculty panel made up of Professors Hridesh Rajan, Hal Schenk, Ulrike Genschel, and Steve Butler in celebration of Math and Computational Sciences Day.

Students were able to ask questions and gain advice from faculty members of the Computer Science and Math departments in free a lunch-in held in the Campanile room inside Iowa States Memorial Union.

Professors discussed what inspired them to pursue the fields of Math and Computer Science and explained their areas of research and past career fields.

“Its all about getting to the end result,” said associate professor Ultike Genschel of statistics, who’s research involves understanding the gender gap in the STEM fields and other theoretical statistics.

The professors all agreed that everyday they never stop learning and pushed students to do the same.

All of the professors agreed that combining majors is never a bad idea and many of them said they studied other things other than just math and computer science because their work can be applied to and can involve just about anything.

Former Army Officer and current professor and chair of the Iowa State Department of Mathematics Hal Schenk told students interested in math and computer science to do what they love until they find something they love even more.

“There’s lots of different paths that you can pursue with a quantitative background,” Schenk said. He began as a philosophy major and then became a computer science major.

When asked what advice the professors had for students when it came to their specific career fields many of the the professors had strong words of encouragement saying that you need to take things step by step.

“Plan for small celebrations, if you always wait for that very very big thing to come about, then you’re going to forget to enjoy,” professor of computer science Hridesh Rajan said.

Hridesh Rajan is interested in the study of data science and data analytics and has recently created three different degrees for the university, one being a data science major and minor.

“It’s really all about the people who can solve problems,” Said Steve Butler when talking about what contributes to success Iowa State associate professor and the Barbara J. Janson Professor in the department of mathematics.

Butler also went over how there is a stigma and a tendency for people who go into mathematics to be in introvert and he encouraged students to open up, talk, and understand each other.

To close out the event professors shared stories that helped them learn and encouraged students to not doubt yourself even though something looks complex or far fetched.

“Be proud of yourself, if you can’t celebrate yourself it will be hard for others to celebrate you,” Rajan said.