Careers in Mathematics

This post first appeared at Careers in Mathematics.

David Failing
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Lewis University
Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Philosophy & Religion with with minors in Asian Studies and International Studies in 2008
PhD in Mathematics from Iowa State University in 2013
Master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois (in progress)

I chose to be a math major at Truman in large part because math was easy for me in high school, up to and including AP Calculus. I also had a knack for explaining concepts to others (not just in mathematics), so I wanted to teach high school mathematics. Eventually, that morphed into a career in teaching mathematics at the college level.

Current Position:

I am an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Scholars Academy (honors program) at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, so I targeted the location in particular as a way to be closer to my family.

How I use math in my job:

Aside from the obvious (it’s the subject I teach), I also conduct original research in Universal Algebra, studying algebraic properties of certain computational problems that determine if their solution is either easy or hard.

Advice for students getting ready to hit the job market or apply to graduate school:

If you are headed for graduate school in mathematics, take the GRE subject test seriously. Not all programs require it these days, but the majority of the material will come from courses you either took as a senior in high school or early in your undergraduate career, so you’ll want to brush up on it. Find a way to use your Truman experience to stand out from other applicants. I was a teaching assistant for Dr. Lloyd Pflueger in PHRE for nearly 3 years, and that provided experience for a funded TA job in graduate school. Having a double major in a non-science field made me a stronger communicator of complex ideas as well, so I would recommend highlighting unusual areas of your undergraduate experience that make you uniquely qualified for your target program.

David Failing
David Failing
Educator and Aspiring Data Scientist