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Rising Stars

Talon Johnson

Ph.D. Student
Department of Mathematics
University of Texas, Arlington

What is your personal and educational background?

 I was born in Dallas, TX, and raised by a phenomenal and caring woman, my grandmother. I attended Morehouse College for my undergraduate studies, where I majored in mathematics. During my time at Morehouse, I developed an interest in mathematical and computational biology. Currently, I’m a PhD student at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), under the supervision of Dr. Jianzhong Su. At UTA, I received the GAANN fellowship and helped found the College of Science Black Graduate -Student Association (COSBGSA), serving as the co-president over the past two academic years. I will graduate in 2021.


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

As an undergrad, I felt a sense of furtherance and support since the first day I stepped on the third floor of Dansby Hall (math department of Morehouse) that came from the faculty. They encouraged their students to be engaged in mathematics, whether it be in class, at conferences, REUs, etc. Their passions resonated with me and I wanted to enhance my own mathematical outlook. In 2014, I became a MARC-U*STAR scholar, in which I had the wondrous opportunity to conduct research in my last two years with Dr. Shelby Wilson. Through her expertise and mentorship, I felt more attuned with this idea of research in mathematical biology, which led me to winning a poster session at the JMM in 2015. But I would like to thank all of the Morehouse math faculty for presenting me with opportunities, such as, MATH SPIRAL and NIMBioS SRE, which helped cultivate my interest in the mathematical sciences and steer me to the road of graduate school.


Please share any words of wisdom/inspiration or anything you would like to promote. 

To the all students of math, my advice as you travel and navigate the realm of the mathematics is to be curious and patient. Whether it be pure or applied, your mathematical journey will be a difficult one, but mathematics is a culmination of centuries of those people who ask the questions, “What if…?” and “Why does it work?” These type of questions come up a lot in mathematics and they take time to understand so that one can achieve results.