Stephen Shank (PhD '14, Math)
In a decade, Philadelphia native Stephen Shank has gone from delivering pizzas to accepting a prestigious post-doctoral position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
A 2007 magna cum laude Temple graduate in mathematics, Shank will be awarded his PhD in mathematics at the 2014 Commencement. His graduate work has focused on scientific computing and numerical linear algebra research. At MIT he will research seismic imaging related to oil and gas exploration with the Imaging and Computing Group in the Department of Mathematics.
“With seismic imaging I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of the Earth and I’d really like to contribute to innovations that will help continue to power our daily lives,” says Shank.
“Temple,” he adds, “was fantastic for me, both in terms of my classes and the opportunities I was afforded that led me to MIT.” As an undergraduate he worked as a tutor in the university’s Math and Science Resource Center and, as a graduate teaching assistant, taught six pre-calculus and calculus courses.
Support from a European Union-U.S. program enabled him to launch his dissertation research during a semester at the University of Bologna. The remainder of his thesis was written while employed as a research assistant with his advisor Professor Daniel B. Szyld, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. His experience performing mathematical research led to a summer spent working as an intern at Sandia National Laboratories.
Shank also somehow found time to collaborate with two childhood friends to develop KangaStock, an inventory control mobile app currently being used by a corrugated box plant that has significantly reduced the time required to conduct an inventory and caught inventory errors of up to $50,000 on the company’s books. “It’s a lot more efficient and accurate than the process they were using,” says Shank.