Samuel Roberts, Mathematics M.S. Student
By Lauren Moriarty
It was a skateboard that originally sparked Samuel Roberts’ interest in physics. "The feeling when the body and the skateboard move in synchronized harmony felt almost magical to me," he remembers. "Later, I realized there was a deep connection with skateboarding and physics. It dawned on me, if I could understand the mechanics of skateboarding, I could hone my technique strategically." At UTSA, Samuel discovered the connection between mathematics and physics during multivariable calculus and differential equations courses. "This curiosity inspired me to study in mathematics so I could learn more about the language in which physics is spoken," he says.
Samuel studied diffusion and symmetry breaking for his undergraduate thesis. He investigated the work of Alan Turing, who was interested in the chemical basis of morphogenesis and described a phenomenon now known as diffusion driven instability. "This was quite a remarkable idea at the time as reaction-diffusion equations were typically viewed as leading to the homogenization of quantities," Samuel explains. "Indeed, the common viewpoint at the time was one in which diffusion was a process which generated waves with constant shapes and velocity. Alan Turing changed this notion, seeing diffusion as a process operating so as to enhance spatial inhomogeneity."
As an undergraduate student, Samuel was the recipient of several awards including the Excellence in Mathematics Annual Scholarship and Dr. Harold G. Longbotham Scholarship. "Each of these scholarships, to me, represents a faith and an investment into my future and I could not be more grateful," he says. "It is humbling and inspiring to see that there are people willing to support me along the way and help to lift me up towards success. My education would have been significantly more difficult without these opportunities and I cannot even begin to express how much it means to me. My hope is that someday I can pay it forward and do the same for others."
A stellar academic record and passion for his field recently earned Samuel VIP admission to UTSA’s M.S. Mathematics program. His goal is to gain a better understanding of nonlinear partial differential equations (PDE’s) and learn more about researching topics in advanced mathematics. Ultimately, Samuel plans to earn a Ph.D. in applied mathematics and pursue a career in academia with research in problems related to nonlinear PDEs.
Samuel agreed to share his advice for new Roadrunners. "I think the advice I have is better put in a story that I’d like to share a little of," he says. "My junior year of college, my mom passed away from breast cancer. To be quite honest this was one of the most difficult times I’ve had to face as an adult. There are moments in our life that I feel define who we are, or maybe it is better to say that in these moments of difficulty we decide who it is we want to be. The trial isn’t what defines who are you; how you respond is what matters." Samuel encourages incoming freshmen to learn and grow as much as they can while at UTSA. "Rise to the challenge and become someone outstanding," he says.