This week, we're spotlighting Lucas, one of our incredible mathematics tutors!
Lucas attended MIT as an undergraduate, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics and Physics, and a minor in Management Science. He decided to remain at MIT to pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics, where he is currently in his fourth year.
Let's get started with the basics, Lucas. Where are you from?
I was born in São Paulo, Brazil, where I lived until age 13, when my parents were transferred to Miami, FL. Family was always a significant part of my life; every other weekend we would gather at the beach, play soccer and cook amazing Brazilian barbecue together. From these experiences I have learned to value family and that unique bond we share.
What did you decide to study, and why?
Since I was a kid, I was always interested in science and math. My grandfather, a Math professor at São Paulo University, guided me since I was very young, giving me puzzles and telling me stories about how things work, how the planets orbit the sun and the physics of stars. From that, I developed an even greater passion for understanding the physical world, which led me to pursue an undergraduate double major in Applied Mathematics and Physics, and currently a Ph.D in Applied Mathematics.
What are you up to now? How did you decide to pursue this?
I am currently on my fourth year as a Ph.D. candidate at MIT. I have always wanted to work in the academic world, especially to teach and inspire others. I want to contribute to the world of education, and I felt that there was no better way to explore that than to work for a Ph.D. at such an academically challenging place like MIT. I have looked for a variety of teaching positions, which has led me to be a Teacher Assistant for the Complex Variables course for two consecutive semesters, the instructor for Calculus 1 for the last two springs, and a Kaufman Teaching Certificate Program instructor last summer, where I taught incoming graduate students and post-docs how to incorporate educational research into their teaching.
What do you imagine your life will look like in 5-10 years?
I imagine myself working in the area of education, preferably teaching at a higher learning institution. I can also see myself working on online education tools, trying to bring opportunities to those with less means by providing free quality educational material to everyone.
What’s the most memorable thing a student has ever said to you?
Once I had a student come to me after class and say: "Don't take our quietness in class for poor teaching; you are actually helping us so much!" This phrase has been with me for the last few years; at some places, such as MIT, bright students sometimes face a dilemma when it comes to answering questions: if a question is too easy and the student gets it correct, there is no reward. However, if the student gets it wrong, they feel a sense of shame that is new to them. Therefore, participation in class may drop because of this. I have since tried to encourage collaboration and group work in class, to show them that it is ok to not know something. Most of the time when they are confused by a topic, so are their peers! Interacting with one another without the public pressure makes the learning environment more tolerant and less judgmental, and I hope that I help my students understand that.
Describe your perfect weekend morning.
Some will cringe at this, but I am a morning person, even on weekends! I like to wake up early, make my own waffles or pancakes, and if the weather allows go kayaking on the Charles.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received or given?
I sincerely believe that the best gifts are experiences, rather than objects. Since I am passionate about food and trying new and elaborate dishes, the best gift I have ever received was a trip to New York with a reservation to one of the best restaurants in the world!
How do you stay focused and motivated?
Sometimes this can be tough, but I try to remain focused by first remaining organized. I think that a messy email inbox distracts me too much, so I always try to clear that up quickly so I can be more productive during the day.
Are you interested in working with Lucas, either in Cambridge or online?
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