"A lot of people think of mathematicians as old men locked away alone in their attics."
Assistant professor of mathematics
Seeing a group of students huddled over a table in Bostwick, scribbling on scraps of napkins and talking excitedly about math, doesn’t at all surprise Sharon Garthwaite, assistant professor of mathematics.
For Garthwaite, a number theorist, studying numbers should be a social pursuit.
“A lot of people think of mathematicians as old men locked away alone in their attics,” she says. But she’s found that making connections with other mathematicians can open up new research opportunities, both solo and collaborative.
For example, Garthwaite and three women she met last year at a conference are writing a paper on the Eisenstein series, which are the building blocks for the special types of functions she studies called “modular forms.”
Studying modular forms can have an immersive effect. Students begin by asking simple questions about numbers then start to recognize patterns and search for their causes. They are quickly lured into very
The temptation is to remain isolated, but Bucknell’s environment encourages connection.
“It’s not unusual for students in an undergraduate program in a small setting to get really excited and grab a napkin over lunch as they’re talking to each other,” says Garthwaite.“They say, ‘Oh, wait, I want to show you something.’The connections they make are sometimes amazing.”