Academics Blog


Name: Peter Lipman

Year: Class of 2008

Hometown: Augusta, ME

Major: Mathematics, Applied Mathematics


I just graduated from JHU (May of ’08) with a double degree in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. I want to take this opportunity to explain a little bit more of my academic experiences as JHU, and the Mathematics department specifically.

My first semester at JHU consisted of a wide variety of courses, and I quickly discovered that I enjoyed my calculus class the most, so I decided to declare math as my major. Looking back, IN49000651_30247167_3168 am completely happy with this choice: I received lots of one-on-one attention, since the classes were small, and very few people at JHU are math majors. Although most of the people in my classes were Engineers, so there is little academic camaraderie among students, my classes were often taught by young, vibrant professors who really dedicated their time to creating a great course. Office hours were a great opportunity to talk with the professors and better understand the material, while the T.A.’s were especially friendly and understanding of the challenges of the material. The requirements of the department are not overwhelming – although the upper level classes are difficult, there are not too many courses that you must take, so it is relatively easy to double major in other departments, as I did in Applied Mathematics (many others choose Physics or another mathematical science).

JHU is a research university, and there is no exception when it comes to the math department. By simply talking to a few professors and asking about opportunities, I found great summer research projects. I worked for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in the mathematics collection, creating a rare book exhibit on the history of math and helping to put together a history of mathematical games exhibit. During my junior year, I started working on Hopkins’ Bayview campus at the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute, completing three separate projects and earning academic credit in the spring, summer, and fall semesters of 2007. This internship was first completed concurrently with my upper-level statistics class, providing an excellent opportunity to learn important theory within the classroom while simultaneously applying such theory at NHGRI. I completed projects in statistical genetics – trying to find correlations among genetic mutations and diseases – and was hired for the summer after I graduated.

This research at NHGRI combined with my academic experience at Johns Hopkins University has encouraged me to pursue advanced training in theoretical statistics and biostatistics, with particular emphasis on applications in human genetics. As an undergraduate mathematics major in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, my mathematical training was theoretically based, emphasizing the abstraction of enigmatic properties of almost intangible entities, such as those of integers in Elementary Number Theory or groups in Advanced Algebra. I marvel at the beauty and finality of such rigorous proofs, like those for the properties of functions in Analysis, where even one line seems to grasp something almost incomprehensible, yet deeply intrinsic. I also find myself enthralled with the possibility of using math, especially statistics and probability, as a tool for problem solving. The exercises from requirements in “pure” math have instilled more awareness of the core mathematical mechanisms at play in the applied mathematical disciplines.

I am currently continuing my education in biostatistics as a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University. I hope to continue research in statistical genetics, specifically the methodological development of modeling gene-gene and gene-environment interactions to better understand the causes of complex diseases.


Click here to access more information about the Mathematics Undergraduate Program of Study.

To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the Mathematics question thread.