Katherine Merkl
UC Santa Barbara
South Hall 6432L

kmerkl@ucsb.edu

Why Math?

I am originally from Houston, TX. I went to St. Agnes Academy for high school, and I attended Loyola Marymount University in LA for undergrad. I found a passion for math at a very young age. I remember I was thrilled when I got a perfect score on the 8th grade math placement test at my middle school. In high school, my favorite class was geometry; it was the first time I wrote proofs. When I was applying to colleges, it wasn't until I started filling out my first college application that I realized there was a little box for the "math major". Up until then, I didn't know you could major in math. I thought you had to major in a career, like engineering or biology. I guess I never had heard of the career of being a mathematician. I started college as a mathematics major and quickly learned how much I loved it and was talented at it. My professors at Loyola Marymount were always giving of their time and helpful with whatever I was struggling on. I participated in an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) after my second year of undergrad. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my math major (considered actuarial sciences for a while). At this REU, I learned about math research and I was lucky to have a great advisor who introduced me to the option of being a mathematician and going to get my PhD in math. What else could sound more amazing than being a doctor of mathematics? That is how I ended up here. Graduate school has exposed me to the most challenging courses and exams of my life, but it has overall been a great experience so far.

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