Wiess School of Natural Sciences
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Jake Fillman is keen on solving mathematical mysteries

Fillman lg

Houston native Jake Fillman, a graduate of Baylor University, chose Rice’s graduate program in mathematics because he liked the smaller size and camaraderie in the department.

Fillman’s research area is Spectral theory of discrete Schrödinger operators. Discrete Schrödinger operators are mathematical gadgets which help to model the behavior of small particles, particularly in orderly media such as crystals and quasicrystals.

“In mathematical quantum mechanics, one of the primary goals is to solve the Schrödinger equation for some given potential energy function. Since this is almost always very difficult (if not impossible), it's useful to study the discretized model, which is simpler, yet still complex enough to allow a rich, deep array of beautiful mathematical characteristics,” Fillman said.

Fillman’s mentor and professor, David Damanik, describes Jake as a phenomenal student with superb communication and presentation skills. “He has a rather unique way of explaining mathematics to any given audience in a way that makes things clear without skipping over important but unpleasant details,” Damanik said.

When not trying to solve mathematical mysteries, Jake likes to cook and play the piano. Working out and playing racquetball helps him keep a clear head. Whenever possible, Jake and his wife Jamie take in performances of the Houston Symphony and the Shepherd School of Music ensembles. They both like the variety of delicious food in downtown Houston, and Jake even finds it a good motivator in his graduate studies. “I want to be successful so that Jamie and I will have an excuse to go to Hugo's to celebrate.”

After completing his Ph.D in 2015, Fillman will likely be looking for a position teaching at a small liberal-arts school, which would meet his requirements for a ‘dream’ job.

Fillman’s grandmother, Larue Rutherford, was a tremendous inspiration to him. “She lived her life in a way that consistently and genuinely demonstrated love, kindness, and respect for others in a way that I try to follow in my own life,” he said.