Welcome to the first episode of AfterMath, the Art of Problem Solving Podcast! Each episode, Richard Rusczyk will be talking with a guest that has taken their love of math and turned it into a rewarding career.
Today’s guest is Po-Shen Loh: Associate Professor of Mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University, founder and CEO of Expii, and team leader of the United States International Math Olympiad (IMO) team. A self-proclaimed math enthusiast and evangelist, Po sits down with Richard to share the lessons he’s learned, his thoughts on his many accomplishments, and how he strives to bring math to the world.
You’ll hear about where Po got his start in mathematics and how his experience with MATHCOUNTS helped inspire his passion for the subject. He went on to do his undergraduate work at Caltech, where he learned the importance of making time for unstructured, extracurricular learning – even if it meant being a little unorthodox. You’ll learn about his time exploring computer science and finance, before his graduate advisor at Princeton, Benny Sudakov, ultimately helped him discover that his greatest passion lay with teaching math.
You’ll also gain insight into the many hats that Po wears now, such as what it’s like being a math professor at a prestigious University like Carnegie Mellon. You’ll learn about how Po’s approach to coaching focuses on the process of growth, not results. You’ll hear Po’s thoughts on how to get more young people excited about math, and how video games provide a model for how to structure motivational incentives.
Po and Richard also compare notes on founding and leading a company designed to foster an amazing math education and build a community of passionate math enthusiasts. Additionally, Po reflects on his work in math outreach, giving fascinating and entertaining math talks around the country. He provides insights into his approach to making math fun and relatable to a broader audience, which includes taking classes in improv comedy.