Bob Krueger (Class of 2019)

photo of Bob Krueger

  • junior Mathematics and Physics double major
  • minors in Computer Science and Statistics
  • from Wadsworth, OH
  • winner of the 2018 Goldwater Scholarship (for natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering)
  • winner of the 2018 Astronaut Scholarship (for students in advanced educations and careers in the STEM fields)
  • member of first place-winning team at Miami's 2018 DataFest
  • gave talks on graph theory at American Mathematical Society sectional meeting; Mathematical Association of America's MathFest
"I value the liberal arts, because since high school I loved learning a little bit of everything to be well-rounded enough that I can feel comfortable choosing what I want to focus on. The liberal arts has broadened my experiences, which is why I've embraced the Miami Plan requirements. The experiences I've had outside my majors have often been just as worthwhile as those within."

Why Miami?

Bob Krueger enjoys the freshly fallen snow while hiking in the forest.

"My dad is an alum, and I first visited Miami when I wasn't even thinking about college yet. Then, during my junior year of high school I came back for a formal college visit, and the best part was coming to meet with some mathematics faculty, including professor and chair Patrick Dowling, to get a feel for the department. That experience, along with the feeling that the school's size is just right, pretty much convinced me that Miami was the place for me.

"Any new experience, like going off to camp or a new place to live, is always a bit weird — the first week feels like a year, and then the rest of the year just flies by. This is what my first year at Miami was like. Academically speaking, it was a really stimulating and interesting jump from high school. My very first semester I took an undergraduate/graduate math class, which introduced me to amazing stuff I had never seen before. It's what led me to the research that I do today.

"Math has always been my thing, something I knew I was going to study. Deciding what I would do with math was really the question, so I spent the past two years thinking this over and eventually landed upon physics. Math and physics really complement each other nicely!"

Best Miami Experiences

"It's really exciting to think that I started my math research the second semester of my freshman year, and a paper has already come of it. Meeting some really nice people, not only at Miami but also at other universities through conferences, has really opened doors for me.

"I have to give a shout-out to associate professor of mathematics, Louis DeBiasio, who's my advisor and research mentor. We call him Dr. D, and we meet once or twice every week to work on stuff and talk about various things, so he's been a source of a lot of answers — and quite a few questions! — about my academics, career goals, and a lot more.

"Other great people in the Math department include both Dr. Dowling, who I already mentioned, and Linda Ferriell, who's the department administrator. Both have been really helpful and friendly for a host of things I've needed.

"For my second major, physics, I've formed a great relationship with professor of physics Perry Rice, whose unique teaching style has really melded with how I like to learn and lets me grow. Dr. Rice is probably one of the major reasons why I chose to take on the physics major.

2018 DataFest winners ANOVA One Bites the Dust (L to R): Alison Tuiyott, Bob Krueger, Sanchit Ram Arvind, Austin Nar, Robert Garrett

"Finally, there are a number of Miami students who have also helped my experience, especially Rob Garrett, a math and statistics major who is one of my best friends. We've been friends ever since we were roommates freshman year, and he has helped me form a community early on.

"For the past three years now, Rob and I have participated on the same team for a data analysis competition called DataFest, which hosts schools from around Ohio. It's an intense 48-hour experience, and somehow we have managed to place every year, including first in 2018 — much thanks to my teammates: Austin Nar, Sanchit Ram Arvind, Rob Garrett, and Alison Tuiyott!
[Read the April 2018 FSB press release Miami teams sweep top spots at record-setting DataFest.]

"This summer, I will be participating in a math REU (research experience for undergrads) at CUNY Baruch College on the topic of additive combinatorics and discrete geometry. I will then be studying abroad next semester in Budapest with a program called Budapest Semesters in Mathematics."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"I like math because it is permanent. It doesn't depend on existing anywhere else; it's just always there. To be philosophical, there's something satisfying about that compared to our impermanent lives. In high school I liked that math seemed to have the one right answer, and figuring it out was reassuring at a young age. Now that I've learned more, I know math is a proof-based system where there are better ways and worse ways to answer. In many ways, it's more of an art aligned more closely with English or philosophy than something like biology or chemistry. Math is an expression that you can play with, have fun with, and tweak.

"Physics, on the other hand, explains things. I want to know how things work at their base level, how things interact with each other, which is why physics is so interesting. And because there's usually a lot of nice math going on in physics, that's always a plus!

"I have two main ideas right now regarding my future career: going to grad school in math to become a professor and researcher, or accepting a position in industry data science or possibly even computer programming. I enjoy doing research in higher-level math as well as doing teaching and tutoring at the Rinella Learning Center in Shriver. I know there's a lot of stuff out there, which is why I've chosen particular classes and interests, and I'd really love to go the academic route with math most of all. But I feel comfortable knowing I also have a strong alternative in physics and computer science if I choose to go that way.

"This is why I value the liberal arts, because since high school I loved learning a little bit of everything to be well-rounded enough that I can feel comfortable choosing what I want to focus on. The liberal arts has broadened my experiences, which is why I've embraced the Miami Plan requirements. The experiences I've had outside my majors have often been just as worthwhile as those within.

"Professors at Miami have an obvious passion for what they teach, and they love sharing it with students. AMS 205, for example, is your standard American indigenous culture class that all the freshman take, but it was really interesting because Sandra Garner, associate professor of global & intercultural studies, took a unique view on how Native Americans are represented in our culture throughout the centuries. I also enjoyed a course on Latin from freshman year.

"The math course that I took as a freshman, graph theory, was so formative that it led me to my research today — especially because I didn't know any graph theory before then, it was all completely new. As for physics, I took the intro-level PHY 191 from associate professor Stephen Alexander as a freshman, and it was so interesting that I decided to take the second course, PHY 192, which was about electricity and magnetism — and that one made me want to learn more about electromagnetism and quantum mechanics. I became a physics major after that!"

A Serendipitous Path to Graph Theory

Bob describes graph theory and how he became involved in it.

Graph Theory - A Fun Field Video Transcript

Advice to Students

"Having taken courses outside my major, I know there are a lot of students who don't really care for such courses — they just see them as something they need to get done. This is completely the wrong attitude. While I agree that you should be focusing on your major, it's just as important to have other classes to open you up to new experiences. Those non-major classes would have a much more positive atmosphere if more students took them that way.

"Taking my own experiences as an example, it's always good to get out and talk to people — not just your own professors but also other professors and specialists in any particular area you're interested in. It never hurts to talk to somebody, especially if you have common ground with them. You just need to have something that you can introduce yourself with and then see where it goes from there.

"Nine times out of ten, it's going to seem like nothing is going to come of it — but you never know what can happen two years down the road, when someone remembers your name."

[April 2018]