Student Spotlight September 2015

Ryan Luke

Ryan completed a B.S. in Computer Science with double major in Mathematics at Mississippi College in Clinton, MS.  After a few years in the industry, he returned to complete his M.S. in Mathematics at Mississippi College.  Ryan has since completed a M.A. in Mathematics at UofL, and is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Mathematics.


1. What brought you to the University of Louisville?

Love – I was looking for a Ph.D. program when my wife and I decided to get married.  She is from Louisville, and as avid Cardinal fans, this was a perfect place to have interest.  After visiting and seeing the community and opportunity at UofL, I couldn't think of a better place to work on my degree.

2. Specific areas of research (how you chose this research, why it interested you):

I work specifically in Lattice Theory which is part of a larger area called Partially Ordered Sets.  Not everything in our world can be organized in a least to greatest relationship like our number system; we often have data that is categorically related or not related at all that needs to be stored together.  Some mathematicians and computer scientists are interested in whether some of the properties of the number system can be used in this organization and for learning more about the data.

3. How would you describe your area of study/ specific research to your grandmother?

Consider a major catastrophe like the bombing of a building.  Police, Fire, and Medical crews are all necessary in this situation, but they all have a different primary goal.  The police are interested in solving the crime.  The fire department is interested in evacuating people from the volatile building, and the medical team is trying to save those who have been hurt.  All of these groups have their own hierarchy of leadership, but they don’t necessarily have leadership coordinating between the three.  Are there certain strategies of selecting one group as the decision maker that will be more beneficial?  If this strategy works in New York City, would the same strategy work in a smaller city like Louisville?

4. What made you go into this field of study?

I chose this research after seeing my advisor do a presentation; his enthusiasm and our great working relationship made me excited about asking questions and wanting to know more.  It is interesting to me because I have been able to use both my Math and Computer background as well as my affinity for puzzles and logic.  I am also happy about my research because it is not difficult to get started with the basic theory, and it will be something I can hopefully engage my future students in even at the undergraduate level.

5. Awards, honors, publications:

Dean's Citation, University of Louisville 2013
Induction to Pi Mu Epsilon (Math Honor Society)
Graduate School Dean's List, Mississippi College
Summa Cum Laude, Mississippi College Graduate School
Dean's List, Mississippi College
Dean's List, Mississippi State University

Spirit of the SGA Award 2014-2015

(2014) “Using the XYZ Homework System" In Marti Zimmerman, College
algebra: a problem-solving approach (pp. iv - viii) Cincinnati, OH: Van-Griner, LLC.

6. How do you think this advanced degree will change your role in society?

My role in society is to impact others through education.  Not only will I do the best I can to enrich the lives of my own students, I will be an advocate of education through all stages of life.  I promote the benefits of learning to children and adults of all ages.  I stay particularly interested in the mathematics curriculum that is used, and I am excited about what we have learned to do that increases the knowledge of our entire population.

7. Long term goals/ aspirations:

My ultimate goal is to finish my degree and become a professor at a university that holds teaching and education in high regard.  I am driven to share knowledge and teach, and I see myself very successful in such a role.

8. What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?

I am very proud to have made it this far while accomplishing my goals of family.  I have a wonderful wife, an 8-year old, a 3-year old, and a newborn at home and I get to spend a lot of time as a dad.  It is not an easy task to balance graduate school and never miss a second that your family needs you, but I have done very well so far.  To have been there for my wife and kids and pass qualifying exams was the hardest part for which I am most proud.  Finishing this degree will soon take its place as my most prized achievement.

9. What has been your favorite part of the graduate school experience at UofL?

I love the people, the community, and the opportunity.  I am so proud to be a Cardinal knowing how much the faculty and graduate administration care about my personal success.

10. What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?

Qualifying Exams!  No actually, in general balancing school and family life is a difficult task.  You want to be at home with your family and you want to be at school accomplishing your work.  Setting deadlines for yourself is no easy task, but it has to be done.  I have dealt with this challenge only with the support of my wife.  I often express the things I need to get done and together we work out a schedule that works for my family and gives me the time to complete things.  Getting through qualifiers has been a significant milestone for me and my family.

11. Family life:

I have a wife and 3 boys who are full of energy.  They require a lot of time and activities to keep them busy.

Fun Facts
A talent you have always wanted: To play the guitar
Favorite book: Les Miserables and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Favorite quote: “Kind words don’t cost much.  Yet they accomplish much.” – Blaise Pascal
Role Model: Jesus – I want to always love, always forgive, and always stand up for others.
Favorite Vacation Destination: Disney World and French Lick Resort
If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? Either teaching high school or managing a restaurant.