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John D. Cobb

PhD Student at University of Wisconsin-Madison johndcobb



University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ph.D. in Mathematics, Minor in Computer Science

Madison, WI

Studying algebraic geometry, advised by Daniel Erman and Michael Kemeny.


Honors College of Charleston
B.S. Mathematics | B.A. Chemistry | Minor Data Science

Charleston, SC

Thesis: “Quaternion-Valued KdV Solutions”. Advised by Alex Kasman.
Goldwater Scholar in 2017 for research in modeling the morphology of semiconducting polymers.
NDSEG Fellowship in 2019 for research on spectral graph theory and ranking algorithms.

Honors & Awards


First Place (Early Stage)

Transcend Madison Innovation Competition
Transcend Madison Innovation Competition is the largest student run innovation competition in the US. My friend and I created arxiva over the course of a few months, a prototype website for making academic preprints on arxiv more accessible and searchable. It is built using django, docker, elasticsearch, mySQL and is automatically updated via aws.


NDSEG Fellowship

Air Force Office of Scientific Research
The National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship is a highly competitive, portable fellowship that is awarded to ~120 doctoral students annually. The NDSEG Fellowship lasts for 3 years and pays for full tuition and all mandatory fees; a monthly stipend ($38,400 annually); a $5,000 travel budget over the Fellow’s tenure for professional development; and up to $1,200 a year in health insurance. I was selected for my proposal about using recent results in spectral graph theory to estimate how much confidence we should have in ranking algorithms.


Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship

Phi Kappa Phi
Each active Phi Kappa Phi chapter may select one graduating candidate from among its local applicants to compete for this Society-wide award. ($8,500)


Ewa Wojcicka Mathematics Award

Math Department, College of Charleston
The Ewa Wojcicka Award is the College of Charlestons math departments top award, given in memory of Professor Wojcicka to a recipient showing exceptional ability, creativity and potential in mathematics.


ACS Outstanding Student in Computational Chemistry

American Chemical Society
The local ACS chapter of the chemistry department of the College of Charleston chooses one graduating senior.


Scott Ward Award for Excellence in Mathematical Studies

Math Department, College of Charleston
Given to one student annually by the College of Charleston mathematics department.


Horatio Hughes Scholarship in Mathematics

Math Department, College of Charleston
This scholarship, given in memory of Dr. Horatio Hughes, class of 1905 and distinguished professor of chemistry and physics at the College of Charleston, is awarded to <5 math majors chosen each spring semester by the Department of Mathematics


Gadsden Scholarship

Math Department, College of Charleston
This scholarship was given in memory of Dr. Richard Gadsden by his family and is given to a rising senior in the mathematics department.


Goldwater Scholarship

Barry Goldwater Scholarship Foundation
The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholars were selected based on academic merit from a field of 1,286 natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering students nominated by the campus representatives from among 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide. Trustees awarded 240 scholarships for the 2017-2018 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States. I recieved it for my research modeling semiconducting polymers in solution.

Publications [Interactive Version]



Chip Firing on Graphs, Madison Math Circle. Madison, WI
Syzygies and Koszul Cohomology, UW Madison Graduate Algebraic Geometry Seminar. Madison, WI
Rooms on a Sphere, UW Madison AMS Student Chapter Seminar. Madison, WI
Algebraic Geometry Beer Label, Delta Beer Lab. Madison, WI
Introduction to Boij-Söderberg Theory, UW Madison Graduate Algebraic Geometry Seminar. Madison, WI
Breather Soliton Interactions for the Quaternionic KdV Equation, AMS Contributed Paper Session on Partial Differential Equations, I. Baltimore, MD
Quaternion-Valued Solutions to the KdV, JMM Undergraduate Poster Session. Baltimore, MD
Investigating Rankability Using Distributed Graph Analytic Frameworks, Tresata. Charlotte, NC
Solvent-Induced Assembly of P3HT: Controlling Organic Photovoltaic Film Morphology, College of Charleston Celebration of Scholars. Charleston, SC
Affine Transformations and Fractal Images, Data Science Club. Charleston, SC
Singular Value Decomposition and Digital Image Processing, Data Science Club. Charleston, SC
Investigating the Stability of P3HT Solutions Using Light Scattering and Zeta-Potential Measurements, ACS Southeast Regional Meeting. Columbia, SC

Research Experience

Student Researcher at College of Charleston

Mar 2018–May 2019

Conduct research of noncommutative soliton solutions to the nonabelian n-KdV hierarchy and KP hierarchy focusing on quaternion-valued solutions to the KdV equation.

Charleston, SC

Mentor: Alex Kasman

Data Science Intern at Tresata

Jul 2017–Aug 2017

Invited by Chief Analyst Dr. Tim Chartier to represent IGARDS and design efficiently stored graph theory algorithms for the rankability project. Involved rewriting prospective rankability measures (primarily using Apache spark) to fit the memory partitioning schemes of computer clusters, with the ultimate goal of speeding up the computation of large ranking problems.

Charlotte, NC

Mentor: Tim Chartier

Student Researcher at Institute on Graph Analytics and Research in Data Science

Dec 2016–May 2019

Worked with a team dedicated to pursuing fundamental problems in data science. Designed algorithms to calculate suspected indicators of how ”rankable” a dataset is by virtue of its spectral properties. Created scalable approximative solutions that work across distributed systems. Invited by Dr. Tim Chartier of Davidson College to present at Tresata, a big data predictive analytics company based in Charlotte.

Charleston, SC

Mentors: Paul Anderson, Amy Langville

Student Researcher & Mentor at College of Charleston

Sep 2015–Aug 2017

Conduct research that focuses on: solubility parameter theory, polymer assembly in the liquid phase, morphology of polymer films, synthesis of polymer-nanopartical composites using in-situ methods for the design of organic optoelectronics. Participant in HHMI Grant supporting my work as a mentor.

Charleston, SC

Mentor: David Boucher

Teaching Experience

MATH 221: Calculus and Analytic Geometry I

Fall 2020
Fall 2021
Teaching Assistant. Hold weekly problem solving sessions. University of Wisconsin-Madison

MATH 229: Vector Calculus with Chemical Applications

Fall 2017
Spring 2018
Fall 2018
Spring 2019
Teaching Assistant. Presented new content and held problem sessions. College of Charleston

Service & Organization

Math Meet Coordinator at UW Madison

Spring 2022

Mega math meet is a math competition for over 200 middle schoolers around Wisconsin. I helped coordinate the final stage at UW Madison by writing problems, sending emails, and overseeing the process.

Madison, WI

Organizer at UW Madison Graduate Algebraic Geometry Seminar

Fall 2021 –

The purpose of this seminar is to learn algebraic geometry and commutative algebra by giving and listening to talks in a informal setting.

Madison, WI

Public Service Fellow at WISCIENCE

Jan 2021–Jan 2022

The 2021 cohort had 3 people in the social entrepreneurship pathway. Over the course of a year, fellows engage in a practicum working directly with a community partner on a chosen project focused on issues of public concern.

Madison, WI

Mentor at First Generation Student Success

Fall 2020–Spring 2021

FGSS is a student organization dedicated to helping students locate resources, connect with peers and faculty, and support them along their college journey. FGSS links first-generation college students to first generation graduate and faculty mentors for monthly meetings.

Madison, WI

Organizer at UW Madison Directed Reading Program

Fall 2019–

The DRP is a math mentoring program that pairs undergraduate students with graduate student mentors, for a semester-long independent study project. The goal of this program is to get students excited about mathematics by giving them an out-of-the-classroom experience, usually in topics that are outside of their coursework.

Madison, WI

Student Ambassador at College of Charleston School of Sciences and Mathematics

Sep 2018–May 2019

Select group of 9 students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and exemplar student leadership. Represent the School of Sciences and Mathematics at College of Charleston to incoming students and other interest groups

Charleston, SC

Volunteer Tutor at Trident Literacy Association

Oct 2015–Oct 2016

Trident literacy is a nonprofit organization that seeks to reverse the cycle of generational poverty and illiteracy. Helped weekly to prepare nontraditional students for their GED. Primarily taught topics from arithmetic, algebra, and precalculus.

Charleston, SC