Meet Ambar Sengupta, Head of Mathematics

Department of Mathematics
Ph.D.: Cornell University
Office Location: Henry Ruthven Monteith Building

What would you say are the Department of Mathematics’ areas of strength in your field?
The Mathematics Department has a solid portfolio of strengths in several different areas, ranging from foundational topics such as logic all the way to mathematical methods in finance.

What types of jobs do undergraduate and graduate students pursue after attaining a mathematics degree?
Undergraduates with a mathematics degree can pursue higher studies or work in many areas, from basic sciences to finance. A mathematics undergraduate degree opens a vast array of doors, from forecasting the weather to financial futures, and from designing satellites to teaching. Graduate students come to mathematics with a deeper interest in mathematics and to develop expertise in special areas of mathematics. Graduate mathematics degrees also lead to many professional opportunities, from the halls of academia to technology and the financial industry.

Have there been recent changes to the Department of Mathematics that have strengthened your department?
We have made several important hires in recent years at all ranks. These additions will strengthen the department’s teaching and research missions and raise its national and international visibility. This summer, our faculty also completed our move to the newly-renovated Henry Ruthven Monteith building.

Are there any common misconceptions about mathematics?
There are some unfortunately common misconceptions about the inherent nature of mathematics. People also have a fear of mathematics, especially among incoming university students. Our faculty address both aspects through their dedicated teaching and mentoring activities. We mathematicians, as a community, are always trying to do more to address this issue.

Where do you see the field of mathematics going in the next 10 years?
Mathematics is a vast enterprise and it would be hard to make very specific predictions. But broadly, we could say that mathematics will be enriched through challenges coming from interactions with other disciplines, both established ones and new, even as the pursuit of deep ideas and their use in solving problems remain a central theme.

What first interested you in mathematics?
I first got interested in mathematics when I learned about a formula that describes exponential growth. It was the formula itself that attracted me, rather than its real-world implications! Separately, I was fascinated with physics, and that made me learn more mathematics.

What made you decide to come to UConn to head the Department of Mathematics?
It is a position of great honor to serve as head of the UConn mathematics department. This department has a wonderful mix of different mathematical strengths and yet has tremendous potential for further growth and interaction with other disciplines. The university administration is open and encouraging towards new ideas. Support from the state of Connecticut is a lot better than it is in many other state universities around the country.

For me personally, I felt I have reached a stage in my professional life when I would like to play a greater role in helping my colleagues in their intellectual quests and teaching, and help bring new directions to a research and scholarship institution.

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