Math

BERKELEY CONNECT in MATH

The Berkeley Connect program opens up the extraordinary resources of the university to you: the extraordinary students on our campus. By joining, you will become part of a community of like-minded faculty, mentors, and students that will provide a supportive environment in which to exchange and discuss ideas and goals. Berkeley Connect will help you to make the most of your time at the university as you learn more about the major in Math. We’re excited to get to know you!

Message from the Directors

Antonio MontalbanWould you like to talk with other students about the practice of math? Get personalized mentoring? Explore what you can do once you graduate? If so, consider joining Berkeley Connect in Mathematics! When you enroll, you are assigned a mentor (an advanced graduate student) and placed in a small group (of not more than 20 students) led by your mentor. Activities include small-group discussions (biweekly informal conversations about everything you need to know as a math major, like how to write a proof, what to do in the summers, etc); one-on-one advising, focused on your academic questions, concerns, and aspirations; and special events featuring distinguished math faculty and alums, including a career panel. No papers, exams, or outside reading are required, just lots of face-to-face interaction with others who share your passion for math.

Professors Antonio Montalban & Nikhil Srivastava
Faculty Director, Berkeley Connect in Math

Program Description

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Math. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Math major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.The only requirement for joining Berkeley Connect in Math is that you have an interest in the field of study. You do not have to be a major in order to participate! Undeclared freshmen and sophomores are welcome, along with entering junior transfers and juniors and seniors who have declared the major.

Every semester, Berkeley Connect sponsors a wide range of activities and events for participating students.  They include:

  • small-group meetings led by your mentor;
  • one-on-one meetings with your mentor;
  • special events, including informal lectures by professors and guest speakers, and panels on career options, graduate school admissions, and other topics;
  • and visits to Berkeley resources.

At the heart of Berkeley Connect is the relationship between you and your mentor. The Berkeley Connect mentors are advanced graduate students or recent PhDs in Math, who are chosen both for their demonstrated commitment to undergraduates and for their scholarly achievement. They are dedicated to providing the kind of close-knit community and one-on-one attention that can be hard to find at a large university.

When you sign up for Berkeley Connect, you will join one of several small groups of participants in Math. Your small group will be led by your mentor, and will meet every other week during the semester for an hour-long dinner discussion sessions. Discussions will focus on key intellectual issues within Math as well as key skills you need to succeed in the major. Above all, the small groups will focus on building connections among students, so that each group becomes a supportive community for all participants.

You will also meet with your mentor one-on-one at least twice during the semester, once to get acquainted, and a second time just before Tele-Bears, to discuss your plans for completing your major. Your mentor also has office hours every other week, during which you are free to show up and ask questions, talk over your day or your week, discuss what you are learning in class, or just have an informal conversation.

Faculty

Antonio MontalbanAntonio Montalban grew up and did his Bachelor’s degree in Uruguay, got his Ph.D. from Cornell, and then became a professor at the University of Chicago. He’s been an Associate Professor in Mathematics at U.C. Berkeley for the last four year. His area of research is Logic. You can learn more at his web page.


Nikhil Srivastava

Nikhil is from New Delhi and grew up travelling around the world with diplomat parents. He went to Union College for a bachelor’s degree and then to Yale for a Ph.D, after which he worked at Microsoft Research in India for a few years before coming to Berkeley in 2015. He does research in theoretical computer science and various flavors of linear algebra, and enjoys squash, snowboarding, and cooking with a blowtorch.


Berkeley Connect Mentors

Claire MirochaClaire Mirocha is a PhD candidate in Math.

Where did you grow up?

Tucson, Arizona

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

I majored in art history at the University of Arizona, Art History, and studied math post-college at UT Austin.

How would you describe your research in a sentence or two?

I like to study algebra and topology at the same time, and think about how these perspectives can help us more precisely understand surfaces and spaces in various dimensions.


Adele PadgettAdele Padgett is a PhD candidate in Math.

Where did you grow up?

Lincolnshire, IL

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

I went to the University of Chicago and majored in math.

How would you describe your research in a sentence or two?

Right now, I am working to prove certain properties of a very fast growing function.


Mariana Vicaria is a PhD candidate in Math.

Where did you grow up?

Colombia

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

Universidad de los Andes, Mathematics

How would you describe your research in a sentence or two?

I am interested in the model theory of valued fields and related structures, such as ordered abelian groups. I am working to obtain elimination of imaginaries in multivalued fields and residue field domination results.


Semester Activities

During a semester in Berkeley Connect in Math, you will participate in one-on-one conversations with your mentor, small-group discussions, special events and field trips.

Recent discussion topics have included:

  • Reading and writing math
  • Math in art and media
  • Mathematical paradoxes
  • Math and society

Berkeley Connect discussion sessions are informal and interactive, with time allowed for students to check in, talk about their experiences on campus, and reflect on current events that create the context for their academic studies.

Recent special events and field trips have included:

  • Panel: Considering Graduate Studies in Math
  • Alumni Career Panel: What Can You Do with a Degree in Math?
  • Guided tour of Bancroft Library Collection

How to Sign Up

To sign up, enroll in a Berkeley Connect section when course registration opens.  To participate in Berkeley Connect in Math, you enroll in a section of Math 98BC (primarily for freshmen and sophomores) or 198BC (primarily for juniors and seniors). Both are offered for one unit, taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis. Participation is NOT restricted to declared majors.

You may enroll in Berkeley Connect more than once (some students choose to participate for a full year by enrolling in both the fall and spring semesters), and you may enroll through more than one department. You may NOT enroll in more than two sections of Berkeley Connect in one semester, or enroll in more than one section in the same department in the same semester.

Contact Us

Please see our FAQs.  If you have additional questions about Berkeley Connect in Math, please contact:  Faculty Directors Antonio Montalban, antonio@math.berkeley.edu,

or Nikhil Srivastava, srivastn@berkeley.edu

You can also contact the central Berkeley Connect office at berkeleyconnect@berkeley.edu or (510)664-4182.

Links & Resources