Heather Mathews (Class of 2017)

  • photo of Heather Mathewsjunior Mathematics and Statistics major with a Predictive Analytics co-major
  • from West Chester, OH
  • conducted research on abstract algebra through Miami's 2014 Summer Undergraduate Mathematical Science Research Institute (SUMSRI)
  • participated in biostatistics research at Columbia University (Summer 2015)
  • currently conducting statistics research with Dr. John Bailer
  • Resident Assistant (RA) in Morris Hall
For upperclassmen in any major, try to get some research experience. Last summer, I didn't know if I was really going to be interested in biostats, but once I had experience with it, I found that I really enjoyed it. You might not be able to discover what you are interested in right away, so always be sure to give it time and stick with it!


Why Miami?

"I'm from this area, so after being exposed to a majority of students from my high school going on to attend Miami, I was absolutely sure that I wasn't going to come myself. But once I realized the benefits of my scholarship offer along with the convenience of living here, I changed my mind!

"As a high school student, I originally wanted to study psychiatry. My attitude changed, however, after taking AP calculus and statistics classes, where my teacher urged me to consider majoring in math. I decided to give it a try and found that the more I got into it, the more I loved it. This is what led me to my mathematics and statistics major here at Miami.

"My favorite things about Miami are my professors and the classmates I've met, especially my best friend, AJ Tatro, who is also a math and stats major. Miami has prepared me for a career in many ways, especially giving me research experience. Also, over the summer, many people spoke to us about career options associated with the different majors, which has helped me to be prepared and informed."

Best Miami Experiences

"Some of my favorite professors include John Bailer, Thomas Fisher, Reza Akhtar, and Olga Brezhneva (one of my first math professors here at Miami).

enlarged photo of undergraduate research group"I don't know if I would have been as inclined to stick with my discrete mathematics/linear algebra joint course if it hadn't been for Dr. Brezhneva! She was so helpful and fun, bringing in candy as a treat and always being willing to help. In the Department of Statistics, I talk to Dr. Bailer and Dr. Fisher on many occasions. They are also very encouraging and are mentors to me.

"I've also had a great experience as a Resident Assistant (RA) at Miami, currently in Morris Hall. This has allowed me to create friendships with the staff and my residents. I am mainly a resource to answer questions and handle conflict, while also participating in rounds around the hall.

"This year I've had freshman girls, who look up to me a lot. Being an RA is about helping students learn to make new friends, adjust to being in a new place, and be accepting and understanding of everyone. People are not always used to that when they come to Miami!"

Miami and Liberal Arts Education

"One advantage to being a liberal arts major is that it increases awareness. I've taken some Asian American studies and psychology classes, all of which are incredibly interesting. These classes help with my math and stats major because I've found how a number of concepts correlate in some way to it. Somewhere down the line, it is always possible to make connections.

"As a Miami student I got to spend two summers experimenting with coding and working with real data. I learned things that I never expected or did not even think possible. I like learning and being able to figure everything out, such as a new way to display data, and all sorts of courses have helped me accomplish that."

Summer Research

enlarged photo of students and research poster"In summer 2014, I participated in the Summer Undergraduate Mathematical Science Research Institute (SUMSRI) at Miami, focusing on abstract algebra. Professor Reza Akhtar approached me about that program, so I decided to give it a try.

"I enjoyed SUMSRI so much that through Dr. Bailer I learned about an opportunity to spend the following summer of 2015 doing biostatistic research at Columbia University in New York. This program had 28 students from all over the country. We partnered up and then either worked with a doctor or a statistician. In my case, I worked with a pediatric cardiologist. She gave us lots of data, which we used to create a logistic model that we all were really excited about.

"We stayed at the International House near campus, and it's half dorm-style and half like an apartment for families. People from all over the world stay there, so it really lived up to its name. I loved my time in New York and would love to go back to Columbia for graduate school to take advantage of all the opportunities.

"During that summer at Columbia, we often met with our mentors about our research project, but we also had time to go shopping and visit the cute coffee shops nearby. I even got to see a few different Broadway shows, such as Les Miserables and On the Twentieth Century. There were various activities incorporated into the program, and the overall experience got me really excited about working with real data and real projects."

Advice to Students

"It's important for students to always take advantage of opportunities to talk to professors and get to know them. This gives students the opportunity to hear about other experiences and determine if they also have an interest in that field.

"For upperclassmen in any major, try to get some research experience. Last summer, I didn't know if I was really going to be interested in biostats, but once I had experience with it, I found that I really enjoyed it. You might not be able to discover what you are interested in right away, so always be sure to give it time and stick with it!"

[September 2015]