• Shawn Ryan

Shawn Ryan, Applied Mathematics
University of Akron
2008 Goldwater Scholar

In his freshman year at The University of Akron (UA), Shawn Ryan was encouraged by one of his applied mathematics professors to get involved in research. That led Shawn to a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) hosted by UA during the summer after his sophomore year.

The research project focused on introducing a novel mathematical model for interacting sheets of graphene amenable to mathematical analysis. The topic, Ryan says, was of particular interest at the time (2007-2010) due to applications in atomic force microscopy and the recent Nobel Prize winners in physics who won for being able to extract a single layer of graphene.

“After the summer REU,” said Ryan, “there were still interesting questions left unanswered so I continued to work with my professors, Drs. Wilber and Golovaty on the questions as I pursued my degree in Applied Mathematics.” “I completed the Applied Mathematics program with an original research project resulting in two corresponding publications – all in my four years at Akron,” he noted.

In the spring of his junior year in 2008, Shawn was named a Goldwater Scholar. When asked how the Goldwater Scholarship impacted him, he responded, “The fact that people from across the nation valued my research contributions even as an undergraduate made me want to make an even bigger impact. The award increased my desire to pursue a research-oriented career and continue my studies in a Ph.D. program.”

Upon graduation from UA, Ryan received a graduate fellowship and teaching assistantship to pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics at Pennsylvania State University. There he worked on using mathematical modeling, analysis, and simulations to investigate problems in mathematical biology and materials science.

Ryan says his goal now as a tenure-track assistant professor at Cleveland State University is to help the next generation of students find their own passion and interests within research in the sciences. Professor Ryan’s current research focuses on solving problems originating at the interface of mathematics, physics and biology by taking advantage of the tools and data present in each field to build better models. His work consists of developing differential equations based models for biosystems and materials that predict the emergence of collective behavior and result in dramatic changes in the system’s effective properties. He currently advises six undergraduates at Cleveland State University on their senior research projects and enjoys helping them reach their personal and career goals.

“I was fortunate to be guided by two excellent mentors at The University of Akron who not only advised my research, but also continue to advise me throughout my early career,” said Ryan. “I plan to do the same for my students.”