Dr. Daniele Struppa – Mathematics and Computer Science, Chapman University

Dr. Daniele Struppa – Mathematics and Computer Science, Chapman University


My name is Daniele Struppa. I am a mathematician
and the chancellor here at Chapman University. I like to see math
really as a component of the human
intellectual endeavor. And so I like to teach classes
that mix math and other aspects of culture. So I taught a class
with Jeff Swimmer, in Dodge College of
Film and Media Arts. And the class was about
science documentaries that actually take complicated,
scientific, mathematical, concepts and translate them
into ways that are appealing but also that are
not dumbed down. They really actually provide new
and significant understanding, more than information. Some of them were
about the environment, which seems to be one of the
topic our students care a lot about. And the challenge
there is how do you go beyond the simple,
emotional statement that we like to
have clean water, and try to understand the
complexity of the environment? That’s where your science comes
into the picture– chemistry, biology, biochemistry, physics. And mathematics has
a way, sometimes, to put all of those together
into numerical . calculations. We had a beautiful
documentary on creativity. How come kids are so creative? And they have this
wonderment about reality and this great imagination. And then, as we
become older, that kind of goes away a little bit. And I would say scientists
really never lose that. That’s what
distinguishes scientists, is that we remain
like little children. I remember when
I was a young kid and I was learning mathematics. And I would start
to read a new book. It was very
difficult. And then I learned that the only way to
really learn new mathematics was to have a problem. Now if I have a
problem, I’m going to look for everywhere
for the tools that I need to
solve the problem. And that will force me to learn. I think that that’s what we do
with our undergrad students. It could be a
psychology problem, an environmental science,
a mathematics problem. The student will realize,
I know very little but I have a guy– that I have
a mentor– that’s my professor. So I’m going to go
to the professor. I’m going to try
to figure out, how do people study this problem? What is the kind of
tools that I need? Then the professor
will guide me. And that process is really
what makes me learn. And there is nothing
nicer than starting to working with a
young student, and then see him or her, three
years later, grow up into a really mature individual. They have really been
transformed by this experience. And it gives me great
personal pleasure. [MUSIC PLAYING]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *