Aida Maraj

Postdoctoral Researcher at Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences

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WHAT DO YOU DO?

I do research on the areas of mathematics called Algebraic Statistics and Commutative Algebra. The research in mathematics consists of proving new theorems and writing papers, often in collaboration with other mathematicians. Most of my projects are motivated by the need to better analyze data. I use pure math tools from non-linear algebra to achieve this goal.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

My choice to pursue mathematics has been heavily influenced by my professors in Albania. My physics professor in high school, Albanc Licaj, advertised math as a great opportunity for excellent students to build a career as a professor or to go abroad. I took his advice to heart, and he was not wrong! My algebra professor in undergrad, Elton Pasku, introduced me to the option of doing a Ph.D. in the United States. Regarding the research part, my Ph.D. advisor at the University of Kentucky, Uwe Nagel, proposed to work together on a problem related to Algebraic Statistics. I loved it, as Algebraic Statistics provides beautiful stories and bridges between pure math and its applications.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

There are a ton of opportunities for young women from all over the world, and a lot of them are free, with just an application away. Before I embraced the opportunity to start a Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky, I always thought that stories like mine happen only when someone has money, family that helps. I am thankful to my professor for letting me know that there are opportunities for me, and I am glad I took the courage to move to the United States. Now, I try to spread the word to others a similar situation to mine.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

I wake up looking forward to work with some amazing individuals on my research and outreach projects! The math I do gets me excited, and the math communities of both Commutative Algebra and Algebraic Statistics are very welcoming! I also love the teaching part of my job! I am happy when I can help my students turn the fear of not solving a math problem into growing curiosity for the unknown!

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

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INSPO / FUN FACT

None of us in academia are perfect, and if you wait until you feel perfect to communicate with colleagues it will be a lonely place indeed. -- got this advice in grad school from erika Whitaker.

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