Calculating the future: Meet 2024 PNW graduate Collin Garmon

April 29, 2024
Collin Garmon

Collin Garmon’s interest and aptitude for math led him to a double major and degrees in both Mathematics and Applied Statistics from the College of Engineering and Sciences at Purdue University Northwest (PNW).

Garmon realized in first grade that he was good at math; by third grade he was taking advanced math classes and in middle school and high school was competing in math competitions. That passion for numbers led him to PNW and a major in mathematics. He added a second major in Applied Statistics after taking a few classes on the subject sparked his interest.

Garmon was a member of PNW’s Honors College, a teaching assistant for algebra courses, a tutor in math and statistics and a Nils Nelson Endowed Scholarship recipient. During his time at the university, he participated in a research assistantship with Grethe Hystad, associate professor of statistics, where he conducted research using R, a computer programming language for statistical computing.

He will be listed as a co-author, along with Hystad, on a research paper to be published later this year detailing a study and findings on using machine learning to determine the biogenicity of samples obtained from pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and finding the best machine learning method for the process. The article will also interpret the features that are responsible for distinguishing biotic from abiotic samples.

At the Geographic Society of America’s 2023 conference, Garmon presented a poster on that research entitled, Applying Machine Learning for Molecular Biosignatures Detection. He also participated in the 2024 Days of Discovery presenting a poster on the same topic.

After graduation, Garmon plans to continue his education in mathematics. He has been applying to graduate programs with the goal of earning a doctorate in the field. While his ultimate goal is to teach, he admits there is a lot of interesting advanced math out there, including abstract algebra which is an area of research he might consider.

Why choose to major in mathematics and statistics?

“It was my passion for mathematics, more than other subjects, that led me to major in it. It’s really quite interesting to me. I have always had a knack for numbers and they just seem to connect very nicely in my brain. I like seeing how all the numbers work together to create and explain different things. Statistics is nice to use math and numbers to try to explain certain phenomena, although my greater interest is mathematics.”

What did you like most about PNW?

“The diversity of the student body, the great faculty and the smaller class sizes are a few of the great things about this university. The faculty are more than willing to help you succeed and the smaller class sizes make it much easier to make connections.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help...Faculty are always very helpful as well. If you’re reaching out for help that shows you want to succeed.

Collin Garmon, ’24, Mathematics and Applied Statistics

How do you think your involvement in campus organizations and activities helped define your success at PNW?

“The experience I was able to get as a tutor, student researcher, supplemental instruction leader and an Honors College student have all helped me grow professionally and academically. I’ve also been able to improve my communications and time management skills.

Did you have a pivotal experience while attending PNW?

“I had a computer science minor which I dropped. I took a class in programming languages and didn’t do well in that course. Part of the problem was I put things off a little too long and didn’t ask for help sooner. I learned I needed to stay on top of things, not to procrastinate and to ask for help more often. It also helped me realize I wasn’t as interested in studying advanced topics in computer science and that helped guide me to the subjects I am interested in. It was a bit of a stressful experience but a necessary part of growing and learning about yourself.”

What words of advice would you share with prospective students looking to attend PNW?

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. PNW has a tutoring service and for some courses, supplemental instruction. Faculty are always very helpful as well. If you’re reaching out for help that shows you want to succeed.”

Was there anyone at PNW who inspired or encouraged you along the way?

The faculty in the Mathematics and Statistics Department.

“It’s difficult to name just one. The faculty in math and stats are all very approachable and very good at teaching their subject matter. They helped me improve my mathematical maturity, transitioning from more computational-based to more theoretical math. The statistics courses and research helped me see exactly what data can say about many things.”

Stephanie Triller

Steffanie Triller

assistant professor of Practice and director of PNW’s Writing Center

Heather Augustyn

assistant professor of Practice in Writing

“Professor Triller helped me grow as a writer and Professor Augustyn helped me grow as a reader, which are very important skills to have.”

Spring 2024 Graduate Candidate Teja Brown

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