The image of a solitary mathematician, solving increasingly complex equations alone in an ivory tower is a myth or, at the least, outdated, says Daniel Krashen, a mathematics professor at Rutgers University.
Perhaps a few hundred years ago, he says, “one person could claim to be on top, but now math is a human project, a social endeavor. And the contributions we make as individuals are dwarfed by the collaborations we undertake.”
Within that collaborative environment, Daniel earned a big spotlight as one of 105 recipients of the 2016 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor in the U.S. for researchers in the beginning stages of their careers.
One of the earliest sparks for that career came when he joined Crossroads in seventh grade. The School provided a flexible schedule that allowed him to sit in on an abstract algebra class at USC. Most importantly, Daniel adds, “My time at Crossroads made me feel comfortable in my own skin.”
The “greasy tortilla snacks” in the Alley kept him going. So did the music on campus. He was part of the 21st Street Singers and spent time “noodling around” on the piano while his musician friends practiced. The surround-sound atmosphere influenced his choice of Oberlin College, in part because it also had “music all around.”
After earning his bachelor’s in mathematics, Daniel completed his doctorate at the University of Texas. He has taught at UCLA and Yale University, among other schools. As an associate professor at the University of Georgia, where he received an Outstanding Professor Award, his research and teaching focused on algebra and algebraic geometry, with an eye toward pure mathematics, the abstract science of numbers, quantity and space. He is married to fellow mathematician Angela Gibney with whom he has two daughters, Jordan and Alexis.
One exciting aspect of the Presidential Early Career Award was the chance to visit the White House to meet then-President Obama. Another was the opportunity to thank “a whole community of people,” including his Crossroads teachers. Now he’s determined to help others have the same positive school experiences.