March Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Roy Joe Harris

Editor's Note: This is the twelfth in a series of spotlights on mathematics and statistics faculty. Dr. Harris joined us in Summer 1997.

Do you have a hobby or collect something?  How did you get into that?

As a child, I collected everything.  Star Wars toys, Transformers, comic books – you name it, I probably collected it.  Some of my first memories are of looking through comics that my grandfather had. He loved to collect things and he actually gave me my first monthly subscription to a comic series.

Tell us about an adventure you had, or would like to have.

Sometimes the best adventures are close to home.  In my recent past I decided to sign up for to find out more about my lineage.  Come to find out, there is a cemetery within ten miles of my house named the Harris-Cooper Cemetery where many of my kinfolk (deep East Texas word) are buried.  I asked my dad if he knew of this cemetery and, if so, did he know of any of our relatives buried there.  He knew of the burial site but not that we had so many close kin buried there.  By the way, the first Harris of our line that we know of that came to Texas was named Theophilus Harris.  Got to get me a cool name like that.

What was one of your biggest successes or failures?

I can trace either directly or indirectly the best of the best times of my life to one event - the day almost thirty years ago my girlfriend accepted my proposal of marriage. When you marry above yourself it sure makes what follows much better. By the way, when one marries up the other does not…

What kind of music, books, movies, sports, games, cars, etc. (pick one or more) do you like?  Is there any particular reason?

I LOVE rock and roll music.  Favorite bands include AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd (pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd), Halestorm, and Black Stone Cherry. Seems like music from these bands are always playing in the background of my life.  This music brings back great memories of great times.

What do you study?  How did you get into that?  Are there any real-world applications of your area of study?

My general field of study is Complex Analysis.  In particular, I work on different types of convexity in the complex plane.  Other than helping me land a job at SFA, I do not know of any real world applications of what I study but since a trip to Mars seems to be looming there may still be a chance.

What projects (academic or otherwise) are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working with Dr. Sarah Stovall and Mr. Chad Huckaby on extending some results from his thesis.  Also, I am in the process of getting trotlines ready for spring fishing. 

What is the closest you have ever come to dying?

When I was very young, I ratted my older brother out to my dad for chewing tobacco.  After my brother received his punishment from my dad, I received my punishment from my brother.

What did you do to put yourself through school, or what weird job have you held?

I don’t know how weird it is but I grew up on a poultry farm.  One story that I remember involved an event involving me and a machine that we used to clean out the poultry houses.  This machine was old and wore out and, as usual, suffered a mechanical breakdown while I was using it.  I worked and worked to get it up and running but to no avail. I then decided to let my frustration get the best of me and I started throwing tools and adult insults at the machine.  What I then realized was that my father had witnessed most of what had just transpired.  I said, “Lord, Dad, I didn’t know you were there.” He calmly responded, “Lord…huh… I believe I would call on somebody I know.”

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Take life seriously but not yourself.

The thing that really makes you cool and unique is something that I would never have thought to list here.  What is it?

I shook Brian Johnson’s hand!!!  Just in case you don’t remember, I am a huge AC/DC fan.  At one of their concerts, Brian Johnson reached down to shake hands with folks in the audience and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Also, for you fellow rockers, I recently shook the hand of David Draiman at a concert.

Why study mathematics?

Mathematics is perhaps the most intellectually challenging and practical major you can choose. Some major in math for the enjoyment and beauty of the subject. Others major in math for its practicality and applicability to the sciences, engineering, finance, and even the social sciences. Mathematics develops rigorous analytical thinking skills that are prized in all fields of human endeavor.

Programs offered at SFA

  • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
  • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with Secondary Teacher Certification
  • Minor in Mathematics
  • Minor in Applied Statistics
  • Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences with focus in
    • Mathematics
    • Statistics
  • Master of Science in School Mathematics Teaching with focus in
    • Middle-Level Teaching
    • Secondary Teaching

Mission Statement

The purpose of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics is to attract and retain the best available scholars who actively pursue knowledge of mathematics, statistics, and/or mathematics education and who skillfully communicate their knowledge of the subject to their students, colleagues, and the community as a whole.

Specific roles of the Department are:

  1. To provide a sound curriculum for students who wish to pursue a career in mathematics or statistics in business and industry;
  2. To provide service courses for students who are majoring in some other department, but who need mathematics or statistics as a tool or to satisfy general degree requirements;
  3. To offer preparation to those who are planning to pursue a graduate degree;
  4. To prepare teachers for positions in colleges, universities, and public or private schools.