My name is Michael Ortiz. I’m an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Rio Grande College, an upper-level branch campus of Sul Ross State University located in the border region of southwest Texas. I hold a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics from the University of North Texas and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the University of Texas at Austin. I grew up in San Antonio and Castroville.
I began my undergraduate studies at the University of North Texas in 1997 with the assistance of the Regents’ Scholarship, the largest undergraduate scholarship granted by the school, and also the Multicultural Scholarship. Though originally a drawing and painting major, I switched my degree plan to mathematics after seeing a film on the Mandelbrot set in a design class.
Upon being accepted into the mathematics doctoral program at the University of Texas in 2002, I was awarded the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship for Minorities by the National Academy of Sciences. This provided financial support for my first several years of graduate work. After that I worked as teaching assistant and assistant instructor. I completed my doctorate in 2009 and joined the faculty of Rio Grande College immediately thereafter.
I’m most interested in the intersection between geometry, topology, and theoretical physics, and my graduate research included many forays into quantum theory and cosmology. My current professional interests include geometry, physics, the history of mathematics, humanistic mathematics education, and the philosophy of mathematics.
I believe in the mission of Rio Grande College. In partnership with Southwest Texas Junior College, Rio Grande College offers one of the most affordable college degrees in the state, including a ten thousand dollar bachelor’s degree program in mathematics. It trains and educates many of the teachers who go to work in our region. I am committed to improving the cultural standard of living in my community through recognizing the intellectual dignity of each and every one of my students. This blog is dedicated to them.
I’ve been clinically diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and display the usual characteristics. I’m hypersensitive to certain stimuli; I process things very slowly, especially during interactions with other people; I sometimes have difficulty recognizing faces, maintaining eye contact, understanding spoken language, and navigating casual conversations. However, the disability carries strengths as well as weaknesses, and I’m proud to be able to represent the broader autistic community at an institution of higher learning.
I live in Uvalde with my wife and children. I enjoy reading, painting, spending time in nature, and, of course, talking about math with all and sundry.