Meet Timothy Rainone of math, a pure mathematician whose research interests include functional analysis; operator algebras; C*-algebras arising from dynamical systems, groupoids, and topological graphs; and the classification of C*-crossed products by K-theoretic invariants.

When did you discover you had a mind for mathematics?

Toward the end of high school and in my first years of college I was blessed to have professors who loved mathematics and, as a result, taught the subject carefully and precisely. They introduced me to the beauty of mathematics and to the art of writing rigorous proofs. I began to appreciate the apparent objectivity of math. I don’t think I had a “mind for mathematics” per se, but rather began to see the beauty therein. Like anything in this world, we end up loving what we pursue.

What attracted you to Occidental?

I wanted to work in a highly selective environment where hardworking and talented students are given the opportunity to excel, where students are respectful and have a good sense of personal responsibility.

What are your early impressions of classroom life?

The students in STEM at Occidental are very talented; they are certainly capable of tackling tough concepts and handling a dense workload. I believe that it is up to us faculty to not let this talent go wasted. To that end I hope to engage and push my students miles from their comfort zone so that they may grow in maturity and in so doing meet far-reaching expectations.

What do you see as the value of a liberal arts education?

In a liberal arts setting students are more accountable to professors and advisers and are thus less likely to slip through the cracks of a bustling college life.  Because of this increased sense of community we as faculty can nurture each student and teach them how to think critically, and to not succumb to indoctrination and groupthink, which dominates much of our society.