Orange Alert

“Xploring” Mathematics: A Grad Students Algebra Workshop Expedition

Graduate students travel to workshops via The Simons Laufer Mathematical Sciences Institute sponsorship.

Sept. 19, 2023, by Kerrie Marshall

SLMath Institute at University of Notre Dame

The Simons Laufer Mathematical Sciences Institute 2023 summer cohort at the University of Notre Dame.

Bhargavi Parthasarathy ’21, graduate student in the Department of Mathematics, recently traveled to the University of Notre Dame to attend a summer graduate workshop exploring new connections to different areas of mathematics. The program consisted of three mini-courses on fundamental topics in commutative algebra (CA). CA is the study of the rings that appear in algebraic number theory and algebraic geometry.

Bhargavi Parthasarathy

“I met experienced mathematicians working in similar areas and got to pick their brains on topics ranging from their current research, to important pedagogical tools and advice on how to find a research problem.” - Bhargavi Parthasarathy '21

The workshop, "Commutative Algebra and its Interaction with Algebraic Geometry", is one of the many summer graduate schools organized and sponsored by The Simons Laufer Mathematical Sciences Institute (SLMath), formerly known as the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI). SLMath is one of the world’s leading centers for research in the mathematical sciences, hosting topic-focused programs and workshops that promote creativity and the interchange of ideas.

In addition, two other Syracuse Mathematics graduate students traveled to similar summer schools via the SLMath sponsorship. Henry Potts-Rubin went to University of California in Berkeley and Eric Cochran traveled to St. Mary’s College in California.

We recently sat down with Bhargavi to learn about her experience and how it has enhanced her education and career goals.

What did you do at the workshop?

This summer school consisted of mini courses on fundamental topics in CA that are not usually covered in standard courses. They also had several general colloquium-style lectures where the speakers introduced us to various areas in CA with ongoing research. We usually had lectures in the morning, problem solving sessions and colloquia in the afternoon.

The organizers had planned sessions that would allow for active participation: there was a panel, consisting of post-docs and professors with diverse backgrounds and experience, addressing any career-related questions. In another session, we shared and discussed our favorite open (unanswered) problems in CA. Graduate students presented in a poster session. Finally, there were several social activities on most evenings.

Networking is valuable experience for graduate students. Were you able to make some good connections?

Absolutely. The organizers of the summer school actively worked towards creating spaces that could foster conversations about research among mathematicians at different stages in their careers – I am in the early stages of my research career. Through this summer school, I got met more experienced mathematicians working in similar areas as me and got to pick their brains on topics ranging from their current research, to important pedagogical tools and advice on how to find a research problem. Another helpful topic was what to do when one is stuck.

I also got to interact with various postdocs who gave me valuable advice on how to make the most of this summer school and pursue my interests in CA. Last, but not least, I met graduate students in different math programs across the US and Canada and we were able to bond over our grad school experiences and our shared interest in CA.

What advice would you give to fellow mathematics students who might be able to attend an event like this?

Opportunities like these are great places to network and build connections with like-minded individuals. I found myself engaged in conversations with people who were willing to be sounding boards for my ideas on different approaches to solving problems.

I recommend anyone who encounters such opportunities to make the most of them by attending all the organized sessions, asking questions during talks and actively engaging in conversations with other participants. Although this might mean having to step out of our comfort zone, the returns are so rewarding that they more than make up for the momentary discomfort one might feel. You never know what could spark an idea that would benefit your research or lead to future collaborations!

Can you share how this experience has impacted your career goals and aspirations?

Attending this summer school was an enriching and enlightening experience. I had an absolute blast learning about new, interesting topics in CA and meeting so many people with shared research interests. This was one of the first big conferences in CA I attended. My experience was so positive it has strengthened my aspirations of pursuing a research career in mathematics. I look forward to being a part of similar professional experiences in the future.

Media Contact

Kerrie Marshall