Jared Bland Couples Math and Science to Explore Geodesics

Editor’s Note: Distinctive Stockton Students features students who have received a Board of Trustees Fellowship for Distinguished Students, among others. Jared Bland is one of seven who received a fellowship this fall.

Jared Bland, a third-year student from Somers Point, received a $1,000 Board of Trustees Distinguished Fellowship Award for a research project, “Relating Geodesics and Classical Mechanics through Variational Principles.”

A geodesic is the shortest-distance path between two points on a surface, including curved ones, Jared explained. They come into play with everything from billiards, cartography and classical mechanics, he said in his application for the fellowship.  In two-dimensional surfaces and in more complicated geometries, geodesics play an extremely important role both in mathematics and physics, he said.

Jared Bland

“My proposal is an investigation of geodesics on surfaces,” he said. Geodesics are central to a sub-field of mathematics called differential geometry, his fellowship proposal stated. “This topic has multiple physical applications. In general, there is a principle in physics that states a system’s movement will take the shape that minimizes that system’s energy.”

Jared also has personal motivations for doing the research.

“I am passionate about the connections between mathematics and physics,” he said. “I aspire to teach at the college or university level to share this passion with others. Deepening my understanding of this connection through independent research will not only help me expand my knowledge, enabling my future success, but will be also personally gratifying.”

Jared is majoring in Applied Physics and Mathematics and is on the Dean’s List. “I aim to obtain a Ph.D. in Physics and become a college professor,” he says.

”I am really interested in not only my learning but communicating what I’ve learned to others,” he says. “I’ve had the good fortune to volunteer for and be invited to give several talks in physics and math as well as assist in outreach for the Physics program and Stockton at large. I am looking forward to becoming increasingly involved in guiding younger students to learning what the right path is for them.”

He is an active member of the Physics Club at Stockton and has been working to help organize outreach and events for the club.

“As a member of the Physics Club, I also regularly tutor the introductory courses in physics,” he says. “I have had the pleasure of grading homework for calculus and physics courses, which has been a great experience.”

Dr. Juan Tolosa, professor of Mathematics, is Jared’s advisor on the research project. Jared plans to present his work on campus in the Math Seminar and Physics Colloquium.

“Through my interactions with other students, I hope to inspire Stockton students to take part in hands-on research,” he said. “Having spoken with students from other institutions, they are always surprised at how many opportunities there are to do research at Stockton.

“Additionally, I will present at one of the following conferences:  Moravian Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, the Garden State Undergraduate Mathematics Competition, the American Mathematical Society’s Joint Mathematics meeting’s undergraduate poster session, or the American Physical Society’s March Meeting’s poster session,” he said.

Jared said he is inspired by this quote from German mathematician and scientist Carl Friedrich Gauss, who lived from 1777-1855 and is credited with contributions to many fields, including algebra, geophysics and astronomy:

It is not knowledge but the act of learning, not the possession but the acts of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.”