MTH 599: Introduction to Mathematics Profession

  • This class is a professional development class on "Introduction to Mathematics Profession" coordinated by Graduate Chair, M. Peszynska, with participation by other Mathematics Graduate Faculty, and guests.

    Students who complete this class will have satisfied the Ethics component of graduate study required by Graduate School.

  • Class content: We will dicuss the ethics of the profession and more generally "responsible conduct of research", and how this is applied in our field of mathematics. Other topics will include discussions on career options for mathematicians, developing skills and techniques to identify/ apply/ compete for/ and suceed in (i) academia, (ii) government, (iii) industry, and other (?) careers. We will touch upon mathematical writing and presentations, and techniques to research using library and online tools.
    As we continue towards Spring, we will talk about how to choose an major professor/adviser who would guide you through the rest of your graduate study. There might be a few visits from Mathematics Graduate Faculty (more in Spring) who would present opportunities in their area, and an occasional visit from Dr Swisher to discuss any ongoing teaching issues.

  • Meetings: Most weeks we will meet on Wednesdays noon in BEXL 417. Some weeks the location might be different and will be announced ahead of the time.
  • Grading is on S/U basis.
    1. Attendance in all but one class meetings is required for an S grade. In extenuating circumstances (when more absences are inevitable), please contact the Instructor.
    2. The class will be run as a "flipped" classroom: reading of some materials will be assigned, and students are expected to come to the class meetings prepared.
    3. Active participation in discussions and class activities is required. This will include answering to polls, emails, and similar, as dictated by class schedule.

    Special arrangements for students with disabilities: please contact the instructor and Services for Students with Disabilities prior to or during the first week of the term to discuss accommodations. Students who believe they are eligible for accommodations but who have not yet obtained approval through DAS should contact DAS immediately at 737-4098.
    Course drop/add information is at
    Student Conduct: All students are expected to obey to OSU's student conduct regulations, see OSU's Statement of Expectations for Student Conduct at this link, and specifically the information about Academic or Scholarly Dishonesty beginning on p.2. In particular, please consult the definitions of (A) CHEATING, (C) ASSISTING, and (E) PLAGIARISM, as well as recommended handling.

  • Weekly Schedule:
    1. 1/11/16: Introduction. Read Diane O'Leary's Gradstudy or this link (Chapter 4 and especially 4.7) See also recent article Be ready for discussion on 1/18/2017.
    2. 1/18/16: Career options. Read Chapters 10,11,12 in O'Leary's book and follow the links in by Kelton, or by Seitelman, or O'Neil, or any of the other career/job sites.
      HW Assignment (send me an email) due Fri 1/20/15 by 5:00pm. Based on these resources, please email me: (a) the career you would most likely choose (b) the career you would least likely choose Extra credit :-) email to me any other website you know of that has great suggestions on careers for mathematicians. (We will include it in the 599 website for Winter 18).

      Additional links provided by the students in 599 Winter 2016: OSU Career Development Center, Thinking of a Career in Applied Mathematics?. Also: [], [], [], [], [],

    3. 1/25/17: Ethics in Mathematics AMS Ethics Guidelines, link to a paper by Hersh (by email), and Chapter 13 from O'Leary's book. Be ready to discuss on 1/25!
      HW Assignment by email due Friday 1/27/2017: Hersh refers to various issues such as "Star Wars" (not what you think). [This is clearly no more a topic, at least not as hot as it was then.] Please send me (i) your opinion about some contemporary issue in which you think mathematics/mathematicians are involved and which ethical questions arise, and (ii) another one that Hersh mentioned and which is still much of an issue. From other materials on ethics, (iii) was there something you would prioritize as the most ethical issue you expect you may face as a mathematician.
    4. 2/1/17: Teaching check (with Holly Swisher).
    5. 2/8/17: Library resources for research with hands-on activities. MathSciNet vs Google Scholar. Also, what are Citation Indices. [Valley 2082 (Autzen classroom)]. Guest: Uta Hussong-Christian. Read about: Nefarious numbers (AMS Notices)

      HW due Fri 2/10: pick three examples (a) a historic figure in Mathematics, (b) a contemporary Mathematician, (c) a current researcher working in interdisciplinary Mathematics and publishing in mathematical and interdisciplinary venues. Discuss the following, for these three exmaples, and based on the readings above.

      1. do you think you can judge the stature of a scientist from the citations?
      2. do you think you can judge the stature of the given scientist from the citations on Google Scholar?
      3. do you think you can judge the stature of the given scientist from the citations on MathSciNet?

    6. 2/15/17: National Academy of Sciences: Responsible conduct of research. 1. Please read: Introduction. Treatment of data. Discovering an error.
      2. See NSF defines CoI (Conflict of Interest) for its employees. (read just the first lines up to 5301.103 Outside employment abd activities.) HW: please answer the following questions: (i) If a mathematician makes a mistake in the proof and publishes it, what should they do when they discover the mistake? (ii) If your colleague makes a mistake in their published work, what should you do? (iii) If a result of Prominent Mathematician is different than that published on Wikipedia, what should you do? (iv) If you serve on awards committee, and your sister's husband is one of the nominees, what should you do? What if you chair this committee comprised of two people.
      Further materials to read (optional): Order of authorship, Publish or perish.
    7. 2/22/16: Finding an adviser, first discussion. Read Chapter 7, "How to choose an adviser" from O'Leary's book. Also more general adviser-mentor seeking with pointers on what to do when you change your mind. Finally, lightly written article on "Care and Maintenance of Your Adviser" by Kearns and Gardiner, on styles of advising and adviser-advisee relationships.
    8. 3/1/17: Research group presentation: Professors Restrepo and Thomann
    9. 3/8/17: Research group presentation: Professors Cozzi and Escher
    10. 3/15/17: Research group presentation: Professors Swisher and Schmidt
    11. HW due March 15: Read and provide answers to questions listed at the bottom of each sections listed below.
      • (Marie and Yuan)
      • (Vijay)
      • (Peter)
      • (Andre)
    12. 4/5/17: (MP) New term advising
    13. 4/12/17: (MP) Research group presentation: Professors Showalter, Peszynska
    14. 4/19/17: (MP) Research group presentation: Professors Bokil, Gibson.
    15. 4/26/17: (MP) Emerald Stacy presentation on "Imposter syndrome"
    16. 5/3/17: (HS) Ethics in teaching
    17. 5/10/17: (MP) CAPS presentation: "How to deal with disruptive students".
    18. 5/17/17: (HS) Summer teaching and syllabi.
    19. 5/24/17: (MP) Plagiarism activity. Advising and course plans for 2017-18.
    20. 5/31/17: (MP) No class (make-up for Prof. Dev. Night 2/15/17)
    21. 6/7/17: (HS or MP) Wrap-up pizza.