Department of Mathematics and Statistics Welcomes Three Tenure-Track Faculty

September 27, 2022

The Grinnell College Department of Mathematics and Statistics is excited to welcome three new tenure-track faculty members this fall. With backgrounds spanning theoretical and applied mathematics and statistics, Assistant Professors Pratima Hebbar, Ryan Miller, and Jonathan Wells bring valuable perspectives and expertise to the growing department.

Pratima holds a blue teacup and smiles.
Pratima Hebbar, Ph.D.

Pratima Hebbar comes to Grinnell from a post-doc at Duke University, where she developed tools for long-term analyses of what are known as “diffusion processes,” such as the movement of animal populations over time. Hebbar will be teaching sections of Calculus II in both the fall and spring semesters, and she wants to help to mitigate the exodus out of mathematics that often occurs after students take calculus courses. Doing so, she believes, will require improved representation of marginalized groups in mathematics. Hebbar has already joined forces with Christopher French, professor of mathematics, to help organize the department’s seminar series and bring diverse research and mathematicians to campus.

Ryan Miller wears a green shirt and smiles.
Ryan Miller, Ph.D.

Though new to the tenure-track, Ryan Miller may be a familiar face to some as he taught at Grinnell during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years. After a few years spent teaching at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, he has returned to Grinnell to put down roots. Miller’s area of expertise is data science, a field relevant to nearly every discipline of study and one which has grown increasingly popular among Grinnell students. He is excited for his teaching to reflect the breadth of possible data science applications — in his sections of STA 230 – Introduction to Data Science, students will spend several weeks developing a data visualization dashboard for a dataset of their choosing. The directions that students can take this project, Miller says, are infinite.

A photograph of Jonathan Wells wearing a suit jacket and pink bowtie.
Jonathan Wells, Ph.D.

Also joining the statisticians of the mathematics and statistics department is Jonathan Wells. Wells comes to Grinnell from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where his research and teaching probed the intersection of mathematics and statistics. His research combines both theoretical and applied statistics, testing tools for processing and making predictions from large datasets. Wells is teaching the Probability and Statistics seminar sequence this year: MAT 335 in the fall, followed by MAT 336 in the spring. He is excited to get to teach this progression from start to finish — applying a collaborative problem solving-based pedagogy to lead a cohort of students from the principles of probability to high-level experimental design and analysis.

Hebbar, Miller, and Wells have all reported positive experiences as they settle into small college — and small-town — life. Thus far, they agree that their students have been the highlight of their time at Grinnell: “Coming from a really high-pressure environment,” Hebbar says, “it is so nice to see the way in which Grinnell students prioritize real learning and understanding over simply achieving a certain letter grade.” 

Welcome, Pratima Hebbar, Ryan Miller, and Jonathan Wells!

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