"Math helps us have a better understanding of the world around us."
As an undergraduate, Fey attended a liberal arts college and valued the relationships he developed with his professors. “I felt like many of my professors knew who I was as a whole person, not just as a student in their class,” he says. “I wanted to be able to develop those types of relationships with my students as well. I think the liberal arts setting provides the perfect atmosphere for that.”
Fey gets excited when he can see how mathematics is used to provide insight into other disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, or biology. “As a graduate student, I worked in the areas of calculus of variations and partial differential equations, and was focused on problems that had applications in physics,” he says. “At Luther, I’ve transitioned to mainly working on problems that have applications in biology. But what has stayed constant is my desire to use math to have a better understanding of the world around us.”
Fey’s research at Luther usually involves developing a mathematical model to describe some biological phenomenon. “One project, which I worked on with two students during the summer, involved modeling the cellular dynamics in a relatively new kind of treatment for B-cell lymphoblastic leukemia,” he says. “Our goal was to figure out which characteristics about a patient might make him/her a good candidate for this treatment.”
He also worked on a separate project with two other students and the research is still in progress. “It involves determining how the structure of the contact network in a population affects how effective vaccination is in preventing outbreaks of a disease like measles.”
“The most rewarding part of working at Luther is involving students in my research,” Fey says. “Luther provides opportunities for students to work alongside a professor for eight weeks during the summer. The students really develop mathematically during that period of time, and I love to be a part of that.”
Our family likes to go canoeing on the river or at a nearby lake. I also love to hunt deer with my bow. Decorah and the surrounding area are absolutely beautiful and provide many opportunities for outdoor activities like biking, canoeing, hiking, hunting, and fishing. It's a beautiful place to call home.