April Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jacob Pratscher

Dr. Jacob Pratscher and family

Editor's Note: This is the Seventeenth a series of spotlights on mathematics and statistics faculty. Dr. Pratscher joined us as a professor in Fall 2021.

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

My favorite hobby is hiking and canoeing. While doing these activities I am able to observe the beauty of the world around me. However, when I don't have time for those activities, I build a LEGO set or work on a jig saw puzzle.

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

One of my fondest memories of adventure is going spelunking. I've noticed that the world that we don't typically see is beautiful - all we need to do is look just a little bit for it. Thankfully I had some friends with me that stopped me (or I stopped them, I forget which way that goes) from falling into a very, very cold river.

What was one of your biggest successes or failures?

Well, some failures lead to successes. When I left high school, I joined the seminary. After my first year of school, it turned out that being a priest may not be my calling. But without this "failure" I never would have wandered around through various classes and find my passion in mathematics.

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

I like Marvel and Star Wars. My wife and I are currently up to date on the MC Universe, currently watching Moon Knight, and waiting for the upcoming Dr. Strange movie. I may also have a pile of Star Wars books on a shelf waiting to be read. When I am driving down the road, you can hear me blasting country and 90s/00s rock songs. I'm not very big into "sports ball", however I like watching the occasional White Sox game.

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

Well… I like to study a bunch of different topics, a little topology here, a little analysis there. But my all-time favorite area of study is complex and quasiregular dynamics. If you can think of any type of motion applied over and over again, then you may have a type of dynamical system that can be studied and transformed into an iteration of a quasiregular function. For example, squeeze a ball into an elliptical-type shape!

I always liked to study the motion of objects without actually knowing what the particular object is, and it gets even more interesting when points just bounce around in a chaotic manner. But at Northern Illinois University, Dr. Alastair Fletcher showed me how to think about motion analytically (in the mathematical sense) and geometrically (also in the mathematical sense).

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

Currently, I am trying to generalize Koenig's Linearization Theorem and Böttcher's Theorem from complex dynamics to an appropriate version in quasiregular dynamics. I have also been interested studying sets of chaos and stability and trying to generalize dynamics of rational maps to a quasiregular setting.

What is the closest you have ever come to dying?

Probably that one time when I was repelling down a cliff...

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

During my undergraduate years, I worked overnights as a grocery store stocker. For a few months before graduate school I was the manager of the night crew.

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

Maybe less advice and more as a life mantra, Fr. Jim Lennon once told me "We are all a little cracked".

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

Well, even though I am not from Chicago I say I am because it's easier to explain, and the city is pretty cool. I like to try different activities and find peace in various activities. If you stop by my office, you might see a painting of mine. I have a sense of humor that only my wife gets…lucky her. As I was working on this, my wife said that my unique quality is "how disgustingly optimistic you are."

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.