Santa Clara University

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Story in the College of Arts & Sciences

Scott photo

Richard Scott '88

Associate Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science
At a glance:

Seeing students understand the mathematical symmetry in nature is rewarding for math professor.

Math Professor Rick Scott works in the field of geometric group theory, studying algebraic objects called groups. It's a field focused on the mathematical analysis of symmetry, he says; having a technical understanding of the symmetry found in nature, for example, can illuminate solutions to all sorts of scientific and mathematical problems.

It's a field that can be difficult to grasp, but Scott says he works hard to find ways to explain it clearly to undergraduates.

"There's a satisfaction in watching students get it, and especially seeing them understand enough to make their own contributions," he says.

Scott was an undergraduate himself at Santa Clara, and worked with Professor Frank Farris. He says the experience led him to pursue graduate work in mathematics.

Now he hopes to inspire similar students to continue in math by encouraging them in the classroom and in extracurricular research programs. Many of his assistants have co-authored papers with him, something that carries a lot of weight for graduate school applications.

"And students here, because they're at a smaller school and able to work with professors directly, often go on to graduate school with research experience their peers lack."

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