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As a child, Ryan Pepper dreamed of using his mathematical abilities to become an astronaut or rocket scientist, but later decided to channel those skills on mathematical research and to teach college students at the University of Houston-Downtown.
"I enjoy doing math for the intrinsic beauty of doing math," Pepper said. "I believe that math is the brain thinking in its purest form."
Pepper, an associate professor, teaches many courses in the UHD Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences. His favorites include discrete mathematics, set theory, graph theory, and the history of mathematics.
"These courses are interesting to teach because students will either love them and become solidified as math majors or realize math isn't for them," Pepper said. "They're turning points for a lot of students, and I feel that part of my job is to turn them in the right direction."
Pepper created UHD's first graph theory course. This requires students to prove theorems and solve problems on their own, presenting their results to the class, using only lists of definitions and examples, together with their own problem solving ability and occasional hints from the instructor.
Pepper says he enjoys teaching at UHD because of the students' appreciation and eagerness to learn.
"I like the students here because they make me feel like my hard work is worth it," Pepper said. "Their interest tells me they're appreciating, thinking about and understanding math and hopefully becoming better human beings for that."
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Last updated or reviewed on 8/9/11