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Alexandra

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I am an astronomer who spends her days coding in Python and conjuring up equations to fit trends I observe in my spectroscopic data. Currently, I study how stellar environment affects the gaseous disks around baby stars that may be forming planets (Yep & White 2020, The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 889, Issue 1, id. 50). Math, physics, and coding are all part of my job solving mysteries of the Universe! Throughout the year (except during global pandemics), I run Georgia State University's telescopes to show everyone the planets, stars, clusters, and galaxies visible from right here on Earth. Any questions? Ask away!

From arithmetic to algebra, calculator to calculus, I have always enjoyed math. It is beautiful and logical like a game of chess, and just like in chess, even though there is one right answer (checkmate?), there are often many ways to get there, some faster than others, some easier than others. Math actually benefits from a touch of creativity.

Maybe I can help you with that. I have had the pleasure of obtaining two very different degrees, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing at Emerson College followed directly by a Master of Science in physics at California State University, Northridge. Now I am pursuing a Ph.D. in astronomy at Georgia State University. I have run the gamut of both creative and cold, hard, scientific courses and have written both poems and scientific papers about the stars. I make a point of creating scientific graphs that are aesthetically pleasing. One could say both halves of my brain are fairly active.

This is a great combination for teaching mathematics. I have tutored both children and adults in everything from fundamentals to precalculus ever since I was in high school, starting with my sister who needed a little help with trigonometry. Now at Georgia State I teach introductory astronomy and physics labs to undergraduates, some of them in STEM majors, many of them not. I try to be as illustrative and flexible as possible when I teach. Most students respond well to visualizations of mathematical concepts, so I start there and always like to use PowerPoints or whiteboards, or at least my expressive hands, to show what equations represent and what they can show us. If students respond well, great, I build to the next concept. If students are not confident, I slow down and try to pinpoint the source of confusion, so I can adjust their perspective and clarify what is really going on. I try to give tips and tricks on how to apply and remember the many mathematical tools students encounter. I show them not just how to solve equations, but also how to graph and manipulate and reshape them, so that someday they can glance at an equation and guess how it will look and what it will do if a given parameter is altered. This is an extremely powerful skill that I believe should be much more strongly emphasized in mathematical education, as early as algebra. This may be why algebra (the beginning of all things, rooted in perfect balance) is my favorite subject to teach.

Math is a lot less scary when you understand it better and can in fact start visualizing equations. Let me show you. :)

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Alexandra’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Emerson College - Bachelor of Fine Arts, Creative Writing

Graduate Degree: Georgia State University - Doctor of Philosophy, Astronomy

Test Scores

GRE: 335

GRE Quantitative: 165

GRE Verbal: 170

GRE Analytical Writing: 5

Hobbies

Poetry, astronomy, music, cooking, dancing, drawing, painting, hiking, biking, playing outside in the sun and the breeze

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