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Photo by Clayton Cotterell

Ricardo Rojas-Echenique ’17


Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Who I was when I got to Reed: I played bass in a high school band called Murray—after Bill Murray—and spent a lot of time thinking about questions I didn’t have the tools or experience to answer.

A concept that blew my mind: Math is about finding new truths. Starting from simple axioms, a whole world of meaningful and often surprising ideas can be discovered and proven unequivocally. Even more mind blowing, it often happens in math that when a new theorem is conjectured, the mathematical technology ultimately used to prove the theorem takes decades or even centuries to develop!

Favorite class: Number Theory was my favorite class in terms of personal growth, but in terms of actual material, that would be Galois theory with Prof. Irena Swanson ’87 [mathematics 2005–].

Cool stuff: I played in a ’90s-inspired rock band called Dog Thieves, studied abroad at the Budapest Semester in Mathematics, went to the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, had a lot of fun working in the math tutoring center, and worked for the Conservation Corps making trails.

How Reed changed me: Reed taught me to think more carefully and how to express good intuition clearly. I also got a lot clearer picture of what I valued.

Adviser: Prof. John Lind ’06 [mathematics 2016–]

Thesis: “The Dress Map over Local Fields”

What it’s about: The Dress map is a function taking separable field extensions to their trace forms. I’m trying to give a generating set of relations for the kernel of this map in the case where the base field is p-adic.

What it’s really about: Trying to make a really abstract thing slightly more concrete.  

What’s next: Studying math at Paris 13 University on a master’s fellowship, then a PhD in math or computer science.

Word to prospies: If you have the passion, Reed professors are definitely going to help you out. 

Financial aid and awards: A bunch of financial aid, including the Victor and Edna Chittick Scholarship, made going to Reed possible. I was also an NSF STEM Scholar.