Faculty Profile

Nancy Ng

Who ever said that math didn’t rock?

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Aaron Robertson is also the guitarist and lead vocal singer of a three-man alternative rock group on campus along with colleagues Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology Scott Kraly and Assistant Professor of Biology Francis Frey. His band, Dangerboy, plays cover songs that include popular favorites, such as Bowling for Soup’s “1985”, Green Day’s “American Idiot” and a twist on Britney Spears’s first hit single, “Hit Me, Britney, One More Time.”

Born in Torrance, California and raised in Michigan, Robertson spoke of his lifelong passion for math. While studying for his Bachelor of Science degree in Actuarial Science at the University of Michigan, he realized that such a field was not for him. Robertson went on to graduate school and earned a Ph.D. from Temple University in his desired field of Mathematics. There, he acquired his first teaching experience as a teaching assistant.

Robertson compared and contrasted his students at Temple with his current students here at Colgate.

“Colgate students are much stronger [academically], more mathematically adept and much more interactive,” he said.

Robertson’s knowledge spans a wide range of the mathematical discipline, as evident by the courses he teaches: Introduction to Statistics 102, Probability & Statistics 316 and 317, Calculus and Advanced Topics in Math 480. Robertson most enjoys teaching Enumerated Combinatorics, or the mathematics of counting, which also happens to be his field of research.

“Counting seems like it shouldn’t be research level, but it is,” Robertson said.

These are modest words, considering Robertson’s mentor is the world-renowned mathematician Doron Zeilberger, a leader in the field of combinatorics. Recognition for Robertson’s works includes nominations in 2003 and 2004 for Phi Eta Sigma Professor of the Year. His recent publications include a co-authorship with Bruce Landman on the book Ramsey Theory on the Integers (2004), and he is currently working on several other papers.

Robertson came to Colgate six years ago straight from graduate school so the memory of his college experience is still fresh in his mind. He speaks from personal experience about his collegiate years.

“You go to college to get an education,” he said, “but, at least from my perspective, you learn a lot more about yourself outside of the classroom.”

He advises students to pick a few things that they enjoy doing and to take advantage of all Colgate has to offer. He says that after graduation comes work and even less free time to pursue new interests.

Robertson is a living example of his own philosophical insight on life. He is busy delving into the world of mathematics and divides what little leisure time he has between the three passions of his life: math, music and family. He has a wife, Elisa, and two children, Quinn and Eva.

For more information on the band, Dangerboy, visit the website at www.dangerboymusic.com.