My response to the below in August 2016
Hi Mr.Gross! My name is ***** and I'm an eighth grader at Concordia
International School Shanghai. Recently, I have been assigned a project
that involves interviewing an expert in Environmental Mathematics. If
you have time, could you please answer these questions? (Preferably
within a week) Thank you so much!!!
1) What do you enjoy most about your job?
The ability to educate people at all levels of background about the
benefits of quantitative approaches to life sciences and to benefit
many research projects with important practical implications.
2) What type of math do you use in your job?
As an applied mathematician I believe that you choose the mathematics
appropriate to the problem at hand and do not enter into any
project with a pre-conceived notion of the appropriate mathematics
to use. So I use a mixture of many mathematical methods.
3) Would you recommend students today pursuing this field?
Obtain a very broad quantitative background (math, statistics,
computing) and develop knowledge in at least one area outside
mathematics (for example, ecology, hydrology, demography,
infectious disease, etc.).
4) What advice would you give me as I look into possible mathematics careers?
Read widely, including formal mathematics books and on-line materials,
choose mentors who can provide intuition about the math that is not easily
obtained from texts, and find a way to participate in activities with others
that introduce you to the use of quantitative skills (such as coding) in
areas outside mathematics.
5) Name at least 2 colleges which offer programs related to environmental mathematicians
At the undergraduate level, you can choose almost any college with a
strong quantitative program, since essentially every college offers
the base of calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, modeling,
probability and statistics that is helpful. At the graduate level, there
are many institutions to choose from depending upon the areas
of interest to you - you would choose these based on the faculty in
those areas since at this level not every institution offers every area of
quantitative environmental science or mathematical biology. For a list
of programs in mathematical biology, look at the education pages for the
Society for mathematical Biology at www.smb.org
6) What is the entry level salary, mean salary and potential salary of this career?
These are highly variable depending upon what level of education has been
completed, what field the position is in and the location. These levels
also change with time so that by the time you complete college, whatever figures
I give you now would need to be inflated. In general, the expectation is that
an applied mathematician has at least a Master's degree and a rough salary
range in government or industry would be $60,000/year at entry level, and
with a PhD entry level would be approximately $80,000/year. Current salaries
in entry-level academic positions (e.g. at a college/university) in the US for those with a
PhD are in this range as well, but are 9-month rather than per year.
7) What companies need talented mathematicians?
I should not comment on "need" here, but will simply note that many
of those going to work for companies after a Master's degree are working
in areas of finance, management, research and development, and data
analysis. Most large companies have groups in these areas and the
quantitative person will be part of a team.
8) What personality traits are best suited for this career?
I have known successful, highly-trained mathematicians with essentially
every type of personality you can imagine. There is no singe "best",
though it is clear that certain companies will look for individuals who
will complement the culture of the company.