The Hitchhiker's Guide to Mathematics

Marc Besson '15 enjoys Budapest during his time studying abroad in Hungary. Photo courtesy of Besson.

Marc Besson '15 explores Budapest, Hungary, during his semester abroad.

Marc Besson ’15 

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Marc Besson ’15 is a state judo champion with an absurdist sense of humor that would make Douglas Adams proud. He’s also a John Dickinson Scholar, student researcher and Hemingway fan who studied advanced mathematics in Hungary last spring. Soon, he will co-publish a research paper and will present at a professional conference. He also recently shared his original work with his peers via Dickinson's math and computer-science discussion series and plans to become a math professor someday—if the sheep don’t lure him away.


Mathematics and physics.

Little-known talent:

Not many people know it, but I am a Colorado state champion in judo.

Favorite book:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Favorite movie:

The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Favorite professor:

[Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy Brett] Pearson. I took quantum mechanics with him, and I was amazed by how clear his explanations were. He genuinely cares about his students and has a masterful grasp of his subject. Plus, he’s hilarious.

Favorite place on campus:

The rocky spot between Morgan and Allison.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Sriracha chicken. The grilled cheese is also good, but overrated.

On studying abroad:

I spent the spring semester of my junior year studying in Budapest, Hungary. The program was entirely devoted to mathematics, and it was difficult coursework, but it was incredibly fun. I learned so much. The highlights were my travels in Europe (especially Greece and Italy).

Post-Dickinson plans:

I plan to go to graduate school for mathematics and eventually become a math professor. (If I fail, I’ll settle for being a shepherd in the Pyrenees.)

As a kid, I wanted to be …

… (in sequential order:) a firefighter, astronaut, illustrator of airplanes and castles, lawyer (after reading how Dumbledore dismantled the opposition in Harry Potter v. Ministry of Magic), physicist and mathematician.

On research internships:

Last summer I completed research with Professor [of Mathematics Barry] Tesman on T-Coloring Wheel Digraphs. We submitted a paper to an academic journal, and I will be presenting our results at the Joint Math Meetings in San Antonio this January. The paper was a great deal of work, and it had its ups and downs. It's something that I can be proud of, and it confirmed that I want to do math for the rest of my life. I love being able to work on a new, challenging problem and then get solid results.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …

… Ernest Hemingway. We’ll be at his Caribbean beach house, he’ll cook me swordfish, I’ll compliment his facial hair. And there’s a great chance that something absolutely insane will happen, so I’ll have stories for later.

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Published January 8, 2015