University Scholar Izzet Coskun
The University Scholars Program, now in its 34th year, honors faculty members for superior research and teaching, along with great promise for future achievements. The award provides $15,000 a year for three years.
Years at UIC: 12
What are your research interests?
I work in algebraic geometry, which is the branch of mathematics that studies solutions to polynomial systems.
How did you become interested in these topics?
I have loved geometry ever since middle school. When I was an undergraduate, I found the idea of solving systems of equations using geometric reasoning very appealing. I took courses with Professors Johan de Jong on Galois theory and Andrew Wiles on elliptic curves. These courses were influential in my decision to pursue the subject. At graduate school, I had a great advisor and mentor in Professor Joe Harris, who introduced me to many exciting problems that I still think about.
What do you teach?
I teach a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses. I teach the graduate algebra (MATH 516-517), algebraic geometry (MATH 552-553) and complex manifolds sequences (MATH 554-555), as well as some graduate topics courses in algebraic geometry. I also teach undergraduate algebra (MATH 330), linear algebra (MATH 320) and complex analysis (MATH 417). The largest part of my teaching occurs outside the classroom. I teach graduate students and postdocs in one-on-one sessions and small seminars.
How do you balance teaching and research?
Teaching is an integral part of research. The process of explaining mathematics to others is a central part of understanding the underlying mathematics. Questions raised by students can lead to exciting research problems.
What’s your advice to students who want to focus their future careers on research?
Choose a supportive advisor who is active in their field. It is very important to get along with your advisor and to have fun while doing research. There are always setbacks and frustrations, but if you have true passion for your field and are always curious, you can overcome these setbacks.