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2014 TEDxColumbus: Steam

Jim Fowler

Jim Fowler is an assistant professor in the department of mathematics at The Ohio State University, and he is the outreach director of the STEAM Factory—a grassroots interdisciplinary research network at Ohio State. Through the STEAM Factory, Jim brings mathematics to farmer’s markets.

His research interests broadly include geometry and topology, and more specifically focus on the topology of high-dimensional manifolds and
geometric group theory. In other words, he thinks in depth about highly symmetric geometric objects. Some of these objects are 16,777,216 dimensional!

His educational mission is similarly “big.” Jim led the creation of MOOCulus, a massive open online calculus course and a pun on “cow”-culus. That course and its follow-ups have now had over 180,000 enrollments, meaning that thousands more people have learned more math. And that is the goal: to get more people doing more mathematics for math’s sake. Mathematics is useful for solving real-world problems, but the most important application of mathematics is to the
human spirit. Jim is leveraging online, adaptive tools and videos to tell that story.

Prior to his working at The Ohio State University, Jim received an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Mathematician, Professor, Researcher