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Black History Month
2024 Honoree

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Reginald Cyril Wallis Anderson

Reginald Cyril Wallis Anderson

Postdoctoral Scholar and Visiting Assistant Professor

Claremont McKenna College Mathematical Sciences Department

Where are you from?

I am from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I was born in George Town, Grand Cayman and moved to Iowa, where my mom’s side of the family is from, when I was 4.


Please describe an experience (or 2) that helped you discover/cultivate your interest in the mathematical sciences.

I participated in various academic extracurricular activities in K-12 and enjoyed a brief stint as a member of my high school’s Great Plains League math competition team, though my dedication to mathematics really developed more in undergrad. My First Year Experience course at Colorado College was called “The World of Numbers,” where we explored various aspects of math history and number theory. We began with historical developments of the Pythagorean theorem dating back to the Plimpton 322 tablet and explored Pascal’s triangle, the Fibonacci sequence, and continued fractions. I wrote a paper for that course with the help of Stefan Erickson which generalized the Pythagorean theorem, which equates the sum of the squares of the side lengths of a right triangle, to any proportionally sized shapes appearing on the sides of a right triangle (i.e., these shapes need not be squares, so long as they are proportionally sized according to the side lengths of the triangle). This was really my first glimpse of writing a math paper, and I was enticed by the fact that this result could reach back millennia to the creators of the Plimpton 322 tablet. The notion that a mathematical truth could arise in various historical settings independent of language, culture, etc. was very appealing to me. The next experience that really solidified my interest in math was learning that the gradient, divergence, and curl operators from Calculus III form the exterior derivative in a de Rham complex. I should also mention that teaching 8th grade mathematics on the Rosebud Indian Reservation shortly after completing my undergraduate studies fueled and inspired me to accel through my graduate studies, as I learned the value of mathematics as a cultural discipline. Lastly, I also received a great deal of mentorship and guidance from Charles Frohman at the University of Iowa to prepare for graduate school in mathematics. 


What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) regarding your career in the mathematical sciences?

My most proud accomplishments in math are passing my dissertation defense at Kansas State this past May (2023) and having the results of my dissertation referenced in Daniel Erman’s invited address on commutative algebra and algebraic geometry at JMM 2024. This was the first time that my work was celebrated purely in terms of the content of my results, which was very moving. I am very indebted to my PhD advisor Gabriel Kerr for helping me complete my dissertation. I am also very proud to have earned a postdoctoral position upon completion of my PhD at Claremont McKenna College this past Fall.


What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) regarding your personal life?

I am most proud of having a supportive and loving family in all my academic and career pursuits. Additionally, I am proud of taking third place in the 1-meter diving and fourth place in 3-meter diving at the 2013 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships (Division 3) as a member of the Colorado College diving team.


Please share some words of wisdom/inspiration.

I really like Paul Halmos’ quote that we should always strive to be perfect, and never give up. His words have motivated me a lot over the past few years. I also think there’s a lot of power in inclusive communities in math.