Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Tom Judson

Editor's Note: This is the twenty-first in a series of spotlights on Mathematics and Statistics Faculty. Dr. Tom Judson joined us as a professor in Fall 2008 and is retiring at the end of this school year.

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

Skiing, cycling, traveling, and yoga. I have been riding (and racing) bicycles for decades and have ridden over many of the mountain passes that are used in the Tour de France. I once competed in a ski downhill race. Going 60+ mph on skis is interesting to say the least.

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

Spending several summers in Japan doing some research and learning Japanese. I have written a journal article in Japanese. Japan is definitely not Kansas.

What was one of your biggest successes or failures?

Writing an abstract algebra textbook that has become very widely used. In addition to English, my textbook is now available in Spanish and braille.

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

Skiing, cycling, old movies, eating good food. French and Japanese cuisine are two of my favorites.

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

Classification of infinite dimensional complete filtered Lie algebras. I found a good advisor who suggested a good problem. Not many applications outside of pure mathematics.

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

I am doing a lot of research in mathematics education and PreTeXt, a markup language for writing textbooks.

What is the closest you have ever come to dying?

Falling off of a cliff while I was rock climbing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And almost following off a mountain in the Grand Tetons.

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

I was a full certified professional ski instructor for 5 years at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. I taught skiing part-time at Mount Bachelor when I was in graduate school at the University of Oregon.

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


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

I have been fortunate to do quite a range of different things: teach at Harvard University in addition to SFA, learn Japanese and French, do interesting math, and travel.

Mathematics and Statistics Programs at SFA

  • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
    • with your choice of minor
    • with secondary-level teacher certification through the JacksTeach program
    • with concentration in actuarial studies
    • with concentration in data science
  • Minor in Mathematics
  • Minor in Applied Statistics
  • Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences with focus in
    • Mathematics
    • Statistics
  • Master of Science in Natural and Applied Sciences

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.