Evan Harris

Applied Mathematics: J De Oliveira Pinheiro

J De Oliveira Pinheiro is originally from Brazil but attended high school in Mexico. When looking for colleges, he knew he wanted to study in the United States, and he had a gut feeling that Wake Forest was the place for him. 

De Oliveira Pinheiro arrived at Wake Forest intending to major in business but found his place in the mathematics department instead. 

“I have always been good at math, simply because some of the best teachers I have ever had — mentors, really — have been math teachers,” De Oliveira Pinheiro said. “I came to Wake Forest thinking I was going to go to the business school, since I loved business so much in high school. But after seeing that business is a soulless lifestyle, I chose math instead. I won’t lie, I chose applied mathematics specifically because it has a nicer ring to it.”

Through the guidance of a professor that inspired him most, De Oliveira Pinheiro was captivated by the world of applied mathematics. 

“I don’t think I have enough words to describe how much Dr. John Gemmer has helped me,” De Oliveira Pinheiro said. “Not just in academia, but in life, too. He was always there to talk to, always with a smile on his face and his great sense of humor.”

De Oliveira Pinheiro continued: “He is passionate about his job and his students, which is always a great characteristic in a professor. Gemmer is a legend in the math department — everyone loves him. He cherishes this community of students that he has undeniably helped to foster. He is truly a one of a kind mentor.”

De Oliveira Pinheiro also shares that his favorite courses extended to the true meaning of mathematics. 

“There were two types of classes that really impacted me,” De Oliveira Pinheiro said. “Courses such as geometry and topology would blow my mind in every class, they were so interesting to learn about. But it was in real analysis that one as a math student understands the scope of what math is. In my opinion, it is here where one becomes a true mathematician.”

When asked about what he has learned from studying math, De Oliveira Pinheiro spoke  about the endless limits of knowledge. 

“No one has all the answers,” De Oliveira Pinheiro said. “In fact, not even the smartest students or professors know it all. The most one can know is ‘everything’ about a specific field within math. But even then, such is very unlikely, or more likely there is so much else to learn and study.”

 Furthermore, De Oliveira Pinheiro talks about how math has taught him about accumulating knowledge. 

“There is an infinity of things one can learn,” De Oliveira Pinheiro said. “I know I will never know everything about anything. So when I think about what is left to learn? I don’t think about the things I must learn so that I can say ‘I am done with math,’ I think about what I want to learn that I don’t know, and the things I want to learn because no one else knows [them] either.”

After graduation, De Oliveira Pinheiro plans to work with Dr. Grey Ballard, whom De Oliveira Pinheiro says he has much to learn from, in the computer science department here at Wake Forest.

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