A native of Birmingham, England, math professor Matt Ollis appreciates that Marlboro’s small classes allow him to give close attention to each student’s strengths and weaknesses, from teaching introductory courses to working in an advanced tutorial with a senior. “It has been more interesting teaching here from the start,” he says. “Marlboro students are passionate about their work, whether it’s someone delving deeply into a very specific math question or making interesting connections to other disciplines.”
Matt strives to make math accessible to all students at Marlboro, whether they are brushing up on basic skills or want to grapple with deep mathematical ideas. “To study mathematics,” he says, “you have to arrange your thoughts in a specific way, and that can be very helpful in anything. In science, understanding the math that underlies what you are studying can be especially helpful.”
Matt is an active member of the Environmental Advisory Committee, and introduced a class called How Environmentally Sustainable is Marlboro College? to engage students in the research and analysis needed to optimize the college’s use of resources.
Matt’s primary field of research is combinatorics, which means that he explores the different arrangements and patterns it is possible to make under various constraints and, when possible, counts them. Matt has worked on combinatorial methods that can be used for everything from drug trials to juggling tricks. Research in combinatorics is accessible to upper level undergraduates, and Matt has co-authored papers with several Marlboro students.