Meet mathematics student, Sarah Reitzes

August 21, 2020

Sarah Reitzes

Sarah Reitzes grew up in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Prior to coming to University of Chicago, she was an undergraduate student at Tufts University in Boston. This is her fifth year pursuing a PhD degree in the Department of Mathematics at UChicago. Her research is in logic, in particular computability theory and reverse math. We interviewed her about her experiences below.

Why did you choose the University of Chicago?

I chose the University of Chicago because of their strength in so many different areas of math. I wasn’t sure what area I wanted to focus in when I came to UChicago. I also felt really comfortable in the math department community when I visited. I didn’t feel that sense of community at any of the other schools I visited.

Please describe something you are proud of accomplishing at UChicago.

While I am definitely proud of myself for passing the first year courses and my topic exam and writing my first logic paper as part of a collaboration, I think what I am most proud of accomplishing at UChicago is the mental health check-ins for grad students that I helped put together as one of the GRIT disability team leads. I feel like we have really helped to bring to the forefront the mental health concerns that grad students are facing, in particular in the PSD, BSD, and PME. I know anecdotally that we have encouraged a lot of students to start therapy, and I hope that we have helped people beyond those that I know personally. I think even just putting mental health and therapy on people’s radars is important.

What’s something you love to do outside of the classroom and lab?

I really like being outdoors, particularly hiking and swimming. I’ve been really grateful for outdoor time this summer.

What are your plans post-UChicago?

I’m not sure yet.

What support have you received at the UChicago that was particularly valuable to you?

I am really grateful for the support of my advisor, Denis Hirschfeldt, both professionally and personally. I could not have chosen a better advisor.

If you were speaking to someone who wants to learn about UChicago, what would you tell them?

Since I’m sure they would already know about UChicago’s top-notch academics, I would tell them about how wonderful the UChicago graduate student community is. I’ve loved getting to know students from outside of math. Everyone here is so much more than just a PhD student; I’ve really appreciated learning about everyone’s different interests and passions.

How has your background or experience prepared you to contribute to an environment where diversity and inclusion are valued?

As a woman in math, I am used to bringing a different perspective to the table in my academic life. I also identify as queer and neurodivergent, which are identities I have come into only in the past few years. Because of this, I really wanted to make diversity and inclusion a priority for myself when I came to UChicago so I could better support students like myself, as well as students with other underrepresented identities. I have really enjoyed being a team lead and cluster rep in GRIT and serving as vice president and now president of the Association of Women in Math and feel like I am doing some important and meaningful work.

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