Welcome!

I'm a Professor of Mathematics at Sonoma State University in Sonoma County, California. I arrived here in August 1998 after postdocs at the University of Washington in Seattle and with the Cleveland Public Schools and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

As is true for most people, my path was heavily influenced by important teachers—I began college intending to never take another math class! Then Professor Soo Bong Chae (at New College of Florida) drew me back, Professor László Babai renewed my excitement during a semester studying at the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics, and Professor Gary Seitz was a wonderful advisor during my grad school time at the University of Oregon.

Mathematics

My interests in Mathematics are quite varied. On my research page you'll find links to my research publications in group representation theory and algebraic combinatorics. A group is a algebraic structure that shows up in the study of symmetry and many other areas. Representation theory is an effort to understand groups by studying (mathematical) objects on which groups "act" in special ways. Combinatorics is the science of counting things, and many interesting objects need to be counted in representation theory! Students interested in studying these fields are welcome to check with me about independent study.

I'm also very interested in applications of Mathematics to other fields. I've given expository talks on the Mathematics of protein folding, Mathematics of traffic jams, and Mathematics and Language. No original research in these fields, but I'd be happy to supervise reading courses if you're interested.

More about me

Ben on Pi Day
Enjoying dessert on Pi Day

When I'm not doing and teaching Mathematics, I like to spend my time with my family (my wife and two kids), and enjoy woodworking, backpacking, and playing softball (badly) and soccer (not so badly).

I'm very involved in community organizing efforts around sustainability and social justice issues. I'm part of the steering group for the Sonoma County Time Bank and the Treasurer for the Northern California Earth Institute (NCEI is not currently very active); I currently serve on the Cotati Planning Commission. I'm a 2009-10 Fellow of the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy. In the past, I've served as a member and president of the Board of Pathways Charter School, as a member of the steering group for Transition^M Cotati, and as a member of the Design Review Committee for the City of Cotati, where I live.