Undergraduate Research

Garrett Robins '21

OUR Featured Researcher: Garrett Robins '21

Portrait of Garrett Robins
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones

Garrett Robins (he/him) is a Mathematics major conducting mentored research under Professor David Sivakoff from the Department of Statistics at the Ohio State University. His project is titled "Interacting Particle Systems as Epidemics". 

Please describe your research:  

Interacting particle systems were used to model the diffusion of a disease and an opinion across a graph. Parameters necessary for the disease to survive for all time on a specific graph topology were determined through analysis of both the stochastic process and the associated deterministic model.

What does the process of doing your research look like?

I worked over a 10-week period at The Ohio State University. Above all, my days consisted of reading other mathematical papers and trying to apply the proof strategies to my research. Otherwise, the rest of my time was spent meeting with my primary investigator to learn the underlying mathematics of the system, as well as coding our systems in Python to get a better idea of how the systems act.

What knowledge has your research contributed to your field?

Interacing particle systems in general are understudied, and it is exceptionally difficult to find out anything about them in general. By creating a system that can have a proved lower bound for the critical value of λ, we have shown that it is possible to construct such a system where we can say something mathematically. Further, we have developed strategies for determining the conditions under which a system will survive for all time.

How did you get involved in research? What drove you to want to seek out research experiences in college?

The winter of my sophomore year I decided I wanted to do something more fulfilling during the summer. I have dreams of going to grad school for mathematics, so I thought a research opportunity would both fulfill my need to be mentally active as well as further the goal of being a competitive applicant. After applying to several programs, I decided to be a part of the program that most closely aligned with my interests.

What is your favorite aspect of the research process?

My favorite part of the research process was being exposed to mathematics that I really had no experience with, and being able to learn about these more specified areas in depth. I also really enjoyed being able to work with both experts in the field I want to go in and the very bright peers in my program.

How has the research you’ve conducted contributed to your professional or academic

I believe that the most important thing I got out of my program was experience working in research at an R-1 university. This experience will not only help me to decide what career path I want to go down later on, but it will also help open doors if that path leads to academia. Further, the project I've worked on has helped me to narrow my interests in the field so I now have a better understanding of what my research interests are.

What advice would you give to a younger student wanting to get involved in research in your field?

The important thing is to get started early, deadlines come sooner than you'd think! Also, you don't necessarily need to get into a big, highly-funded program as long as you are working on a project that aligns with your interests.

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