Dr. Markus Hunziker
In his sophomore year of high school, Dr. Markus Hunziker decided that he wanted to be a physicist. "There were two years, in succession, where we had two Nobel Prizes in experimental physics, and they inspired me a lot," the Switzerland native says. "I wanted to see these labs and to smell them and be one of them; it was a very romantic feeling."
Top Notch Teaching
But while studying at the University of Basel, his eyes were opened to mathematics, a topic he didn't take the time to appreciate before. "I had a professor that was just this phenomenal teacher and it blew my mind," says Dr. Hunziker. "I started to see math as less of a language and more of an art in itself."
A doctoral degree, industry job and post-doctoral degree later, Dr. Hunziker came to Baylor in 2004 to serve as professor and researcher in the mathematics department, a program birthed out of the Baylor 2012 Vision. "It was very clear that the department had a good trajectory," he says. "And I was impressed by the warmth of the department and by Baylor's vision to become a premier research university without compromising its famed dedication to excellence in teaching."
Learning by Photosynthesis
During his tenure here, he has taught graduate courses and seminars in algebra, analysis, representation theory, differential geometry, and mathematical physics. It is this opportunity to work closely with graduate students that he finds most rewarding. "You plant seeds with graduate students and you don't really know whether they're going to grow or not," Dr. Hunziker says. "But you just give them things that they can use and eventually they have to come up with their own ideas."
He believes that you should always learn much more than what you think might be useful later. On the occasion that a student asks whether a certain skill will be useful or not, he replies with an analogy. "If you are a basketball player, you have to lift weights," Dr. Hunziker says. "The idea is that you learn all of these skills that you will use without even knowing."
His main area of research includes the representation theory of Lie groups, which is found at the juncture of algebra, analysis and geometry. "In simplest terms, representation theory is the study of symmetries," he says. "Much of my current research is concerned with symmetries that arise in quantum mechanics and quantum field theory."
Outside of Lie groups and teaching, his interests are varied, from cooking to sports; but right now, his growing family takes up most of his time. "I'm also interested in almost all forms of art," he says. "If I wasn't a mathematician, I would probably be an architect."