USC Campus-TOMMY Trojan

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Transcript USC Campus-TOMMY Trojan

USC Campus-Tommy Trojan
Ideas to improve the PhD
program at USC
Professor Francis Bonahon-USC Math Dept.
 Asher Shamam-Applied Math Student in the PhD
program at USC
Ideas for Improvements
PhD with minors
First Key Idea:
Holistic Individual Mentoring
The Mentoring Triplet
 Informal monthly meeting
 Experimenting with different teaching
 Involve the alumni network
The Mentoring Triplet
Main mechanism: connect each entering
graduate student with one faculty member
and one advanced graduate student
 Regular or need-based meetings bring the
triplet together
 Occasionally attend each other’s classes as
a role model and for feedback?
Some benefits of the Triplet
Entering student has a family - Feels in
 The triplet meetings will serve to keep
student on track
 Student can approach his mentors as
issues/problems arise. The faculty member
can serve as an advocate
Informal Monthly Meetings
Informal meeting will bring all the triplets
together, in addition to any other interested
graduate students
 Discussion can be teaching, research,
upcoming exams, and other issues of
 Can be used as part of the activities of the
New Teaching Format
Lecture and Discussion section combined
 Professor lectures on a bite of material and
gives the students a problem to work on
 TA’s assist by roving around and helping
 TA’s take over the lecture for 10-15 minute
changing roles with Professor
New Teaching format-Benefits
More active role for undergraduates in the
 Graduate student and professor can observe
each other’s teaching - constant feedback
 Graduate student and professor can
exchange roles, resulting in a better handson experience for the student
Creating a better Alumni
Efforts underway to create a viable Alumni
network of former graduates.
 Directory that categorizes the areas where the
alumni have been successfully integrated
 Involving Alumni in the graduate seminars and
talks would strengthen the mentoring networkserve as an inspiration
 Graduate students can spear-head the initiative
Mentoring till when?
This holistic mentoring will continue until
the student passes the screening exams, a
thesis committee is formed, and the
graduate student has roots firmly planted in
the department
Some concerns
Triplet consists of three different
personalities-not possible to predict success
of the dynamics in general
 Time is the most scarce resource-students
are busy advancing through program, and
the faculty member is busy with his/her
Second key Idea:
The PhD+
The PhD+: a PhD with a minor
Two possibilities:
 PhD with a full fledged Master degree in
another discipline (hard route)
 PhD with the restructured Master’s degree
in math with specialty (easier)
PhD with a Master degree in
another discipline
Possible fields: Computer Science,
Computer Engineering, Biology, Electrical
 In the past, students have done this on their
 Negotiations under way with the other
departments to try to make it easier
Restructuring Masters
Main Theme is mathematical
interconnections and a broad exposure to
various disciplines and techniques
 Consolidation of the current program is the
way to go
PhD with MS in mathematics
with specialization
Replace four of the current six Master’s programs
with a single degree called MS in Mathematics
with specialization
 Requires a certain number of classes outside of
Math Department
 Possible specializations: Applied Math, Core
Math, Stats, Coding Theory, Math Biology, Math
Econ/Finance, Computer Science, Engineering,
and more.
Some benefits of the PhD+
A larger intellectual breadth for the PhD
 Restructured Masters would improve
Doctoral education- more interdisciplinary
 PhD+ holder is more employable
 Existence of these programs makes
Mathematics more attractive to prospective
PhD students
Momentum for these Ideas is large
 Technical difficulties with the Masters
restructuring are being tackled
 New teaching format seems to be a success
Thank You all !