Priyam Patel

Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Utah


You belong and there are people who’ve come before you that are really rooting for you.

What do you do?

I am a professor working in the sub fields of mathematics called topology and geometry. The research part of my job entails writing mathematics papers in which I prove new theorems. Often, these papers study surfaces and other low-dimensional manifolds. I also teach and mentor graduate and undergraduate students, supervise postdocs, run seminars, and participate in a variety of outreach and diversity initiatives.

Why did you choose this field?

I have always found mathematics fascinating and was very lucky to have some great math teachers in high school. I became really excited about mathematics (both research and teaching) while I was an undergrad. I particularly chose to study geometry and topology because research in this field is very visual and artistic, and it taps deeply into my creative side. I decided to become a professor to help pave a better path for women of color in STEM.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I received an NSF grant while I was a postdoc at UCSB. It made a huge difference to my career and securing a great tenure-track job. I really didn’t think I would get the grant even when I was applying, let alone many years before I got to that stage in my career! Sometimes I still can’t believe it!

Why do you love working in STEM?

I like working in STEM because I get to collaborate with some amazing individuals daily on my research and outreach projects. I also really love working with students and helping them to believe in their own abilities despite the world around them signaling to them that they don’t belong in STEM. I enjoy working to break the stereotypes about who belongs in STEM daily.

Best advice for next generation?

I would like them to know that STEM benefits greatly by having them in it. I would like them to know that they belong and that there are people who’ve come before them that are really rooting for them and will help them to obtain their goals, whatever they may be.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I am changing the things I cannot accept.” — Angela Davis

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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