Academics Matt Ollis - Mathematics
Contact Matt Ollis; 802-258-9215
A native of Birmingham, England, math professor Matt Ollis appreciates the close attention to each student’s strengths and weaknesses that Marlboro’s small classes allow him, from teaching introductory courses to working in an advanced tutorial with a senior. “It has been more interesting teaching here from the start," he says. "Marlboro students are passionate about their work, whether its someone delving deeply into a very specific math question or making interesting connections to other disciplines."
Matt doesn’t expect a flock of Marlboro students to embrace mathematics the way he has, but he does work to make it more accessible for non-mathematicians, particularly among those studying science. "To study mathematics," he says, "you have to arrange your thoughts in a specific way, and that can be very helpful in anything. In science, understanding the math that underlies the science can be especially helpful."
Student Plans and Collaborations
- "From graceful labelings of paths to cyclic solutions of the Oberwolfach problem" with Ambrose Sterr '07.
- Co-authoring paper on "group theory" with Devin Willmott '11.
- A study of the anatomy and physiology of the human kidney, with the goal of using mathematical tools to predict the severity of kidney disease. Rik Ganguly '10, biology and mathematics.
- A study of several topics in mathematics, ranging from game theory to advanced calculus, with a focused examination of structure and narrative in games. Martin Cahill '10, mathematics and writing.
- An investigation of issues in ecology and conservation biology with a focus on the impacts of human disturbance and mathematical analysis. Elizabeth Toleno '09, biology and mathematics.
Matt has a long-standing interest in combinatorics, also known as "the science of counting," which explores the different possible combinations of numbers within sets. Matt worked on combinatorial methods that can be used for everything from drug trials to cheese tastings. And then, of course, "It’s a great help for juggling," he says. "It gives you patterns you can follow." Matt is an active member of the Environmental Advisory Board, and introduced a class called How Environmentally Sustainable is Marlboro College? to engage students in the research and analysis needed to optimize the college's use of resources. He recently presented a talk at Middlebury college entitled, "The terrace: A useful tool for wine tasters, dancing children and hungry mathematicians."
M.Sci., Queen Mary University of London, 1999; Ph.D., Queen Mary University of London, 2003; Marlboro College, 2003 –