About Me

Hello, I’m Will Hoffer. I’m currently a sophomore double majoring in Mathematics and Physics. Though subject to change, my current goal is to purse grad school and then become a professor or a researcher. I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio (more specifically, Maineville which is just north of Kings Island.) I have two lovely dogs at home, for whom my love is immeasurable.

I am a TA in the Math Department for Math 1075, a Peer Mentor for students in the honors survey program, and am participating in the STEP program. A couple interesting things about me include: I can make holograms, I’m building a quadcopter from scratch, and I devour Shakespeare.

Unraveling Knots – A STEP Project Reflection

I spent a summer unraveling knots. While it may sound frustrating or absurd at first, I should specify that these supposed knots are actually mathematical objects. This “unraveling” is the research process of finding algebraic structures to assign to closed loops tangled in space that remain invariant under the ambient motions. Over the course of this project, I worked with a team of other undergraduates to generalize some previous results and to employ more advanced constructions such as quandle cohomology to ultimately show that a more general approach to “coloring” a knot factors with a type of well know approach to assigning polynomials to knots.

In the process of plunging into these topics, I wound up poking into topics that guided me to where I aim to be in a few years from now. As I picked up topics in knot theory, I slowly found connections from a certain knot move into a 2D model for statistical mechanics interactions into more complicated interweavings between mathematics and physics. I found ways to delve into and share these topics, if only to wrack my brain over hard but interesting problems. My research crew ultimately went on to present at the Young Mathematician’s Conference, and in standing and presenting my work, I knew that I am prepared to be standing before graduates and beyond with the work I have yet to accomplish.

Ultimately, I found my muse steering me toward mathematical physics. Before getting deeper into the project, I had yet to lock my target in on any specific discipline. But after seeing these seemingly unrelated topics suddenly crop into a differential equation of interest to physicists, into another spectacular bridge between disciplines, I realized that I had already long been tidally bound into this intersection.

Then, at the conference itself, meeting others both interested in math and from diverse different backgrounds shored my stance that I can not only be accepted in fields beyond college, but that I can thrive. Coming from an initial environment blind to my identity to the wonderful city of Columbus and then ultimately seeing peers from across the nation reecho this calling all the more bricked my path forward.

Now, I stand poised so close to leaving the Ohio State nest and start flapping my wings somewhere new. In a short time, I’ll be breaking chalk and burning through printer paper elsewhere in the world. I am not just more experienced for having built new ideas and computerizing them into coherent presentations, but also wholly more prepared for the rigor of research in the post-undergraduate world. From being a stronger applicant to having the fundamental tools for inquiry having been already refined, I stand prepared to enter graduate school and ultimately pursue my goal of obtaining the doctorate mile marker and further contributing something novel to the world ahead.

Reflection on the G.O.A.L.S.

As I reach the halfway mark, it’s an apt time to reflect on my overall progress. Without further ado, let’s dive in:

Firstly, I have taken great strides toward original inquiry. I have finally set up research in both mathematics and physics for over the summer, of which I am proud to be involved in. It took a lot of perseverance to find professors/programs looking for students, so my advice to any is to reach out again and again and again; that’s what ultimately worked for me.

My academics have been both very strong and very challenging. There is no shortage of classwork between two majors and 18 credit hours every semester. I am taking the most advanced classes that I can reasonable fit into my time, with that caveat that I take three math/physics courses at a time so that I can balance their workloads with my teaching position.

Speaking of which, my position as a Math Student Instructional Associate (the full title for the position, which includes working as a tutor and a teaching assistant) has been an excellent experience in a leadership position. Specifically, as the teacher in a recitation classroom, I serve as a guide and a resource for the students. I’ve always valued disseminating knowledge, which is a crucial aspect of my future goal to pursue research.

Along with teaching, I serve as a peer mentor in the honors program. I will continue to do so, though there’s no pay involved (unless you count the occasional cookie from the honors advising’s wonderful baker). I always have trouble making time amidst my academic workload, but I am enormously glad to be able to assist the fledgling buckeyes.

Finally, the last major aspect of the past year has been the STEP program. Currently, I have my sights set on a study abroad project for next year. Specifically, the program that I am looking into will visit London and Paris, two wonderful cities with even better histories.

Thus we’ve come full circle and addressed all the G.O.A.L.S of the honors program. So far so good. Now, as I move into the second half of my undergraduate year, it’s time to look forward. Graduate school applications and GRE’s are around the corner on top of increasingly challenging material to master– I’ve got my work cut out for me.



Holography is an awesome art form that involves creating, as the name would suggest, holograms. These holograms are astounding, and this 2D image of a hologram fails to capture the true wow factor that comes from seeing a 3D representation of paper dragons flowing down around me. I took Physics 3201H, and then Physics 6201; in the latter course, I created the above hologram using a pulse laser. The pulse laser is a really special– any holographer would dream of having access to this expensive equipment. The pulse laser allows holograms to be created of humans, animals, and other moving objects, such as a self-portrait of me with origami raining down.

My Resume (May 2016)

Will Hoffer

Education & Accolades

August 2015 – May 2019 Pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Science in Physics,  The Ohio State University

·  On the Dean’s List with a 3.88 GPA

·  Awarded the Maximus Scholarship for academic merit

·  Admitted into the Honors program

August 2011 – May 2015 High School Diploma,  St. Xavier High School

·  ACT score of 35, Top 1% of Graduating Class

·  National Merit Finalist

·  First Honors for all 8 semesters

·  Received the J. Harold Kotte, M.D. Biology Award

·  Received 22 Magis Awards for academic excellence in a myriad of subjects

·  Northwestern Book Award 2014

·  Edward G. McDonnel Award 2015

Work Experience

August 2016—Onwards Student Instructional Associate for the Mathematics Department

·  Serve as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for recitation sections

·  Procter and grade course examinations

·  Staff the mathematics tutoring center for undergraduate students

·  Hold office hours for students in the assigned course

August 2015, August 2016 OSU Welcome Leader (2015), OWL-Coordinator (2016)

·  OWL-C: Lead and train a team of OWL students

·  OWL-C: Coordination and responsibility for program

·  Facilitate and expedite Move-In Day unloading

August 2013 – June 2015 Software Development Team Captain,  FIRST Tech Challenge Team #4969

·  Led the design, implementation, and testing of the robot’s software

·  Team Awarded the THINK Award at Ohio State Championship, Dayton Regional and Cincinnati Regional Tournaments

·  Placed 15th in our division of the Superregional (viz. National) Championship, in Des Moines, IA (approx. 80 attendees from 1000s of teams in the region)

August 2014 – May 2015 Editor in Chief,  Expressions Literary Magazine

·  Compiled student writing and Published the 50th Anniversary Edition

Involvement & Leadership

  • Radical Pi, Ohio State’s Mathematics Club, Member
    • Attend informative and engaging talks from mathematics professors
  • Society of Physics Students Member
    • Attend talks from physics professors and attend/volunteer at other planned events
  • Holography Club Vice President
    • Plan and coordinate holographic art shows of student-produced holograms
  • Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society Member
  • Kairos Retreat Assistant Rector
    • Pre-retreat organization of supplies and coordination of the student and adult leaders
    • Lead a small group and deliver a student talk; Facilitate the retreat processes
  • Night for the Fight Student Leadership Team
  • Xavier National Honor Society Member
  • Xavier Math Club Team Captain
  • Xavier Young Writer’s Forum President
  • Xavier Math Center, Writing Center, and Learning Center Tutors


Global Awareness:

My major disciplines, Math and Physics, are internationally cooperative fields of study. Research is conducted around the globe, and these researchers are diligent at sharing new-found data and conclusions. In particular, I intend to expose myself to international research if at all possible. For instance, students can find research programs abroad. So, as I look for research opportunities, I will seek international options too, in order to advance my learning through exposure to the work done abroad.

Original Inquiry:

Research is fundamental to my current field of study. I intend to pursue a graduate education, which means I will be working toward a thesis, a research contribution. Consequently, a major focus in my undergraduate education is to gain research experience. So, I am challenging myself to high-level coursework in order to build requisite knowledge, seeking research opportunities over summer breaks, and listening to presentations on interesting topics in math/physics, to name a few things.

Academic Enrichment:

One look at my schedule belies the academic rigor that I am pursuing. I am already taking a proof-based math course in the 4000 level, and this is merely the introduction to the mathematics department’s honors math track. Furthermore, I am also pursuing a second major in physics, and the advanced physics option even. In the future, I intend to enroll in graduate level courses as an undergraduate to make the most out of my college education and in preparation for attending graduate school.

Leadership Development:

As I strive to optimize my efforts in the pursuit of knowledge and research, I will lead by example. That is to say, by seeking to be the best that I can be, I hope to inspire others to similarly reach toward their goals. Whether it be through extracurricular organizations or simply through my dedication to academics, I aim to help others also to pursue their passions. Some examples of organizations that I would offer my service in leading would be the organizations such as Society of Physics Students, Radical Pi, and the Holography Club.

Service Engagement:

One avenue in particular that I intend to become involved with during my stint as an undergraduate student is with tutoring/teaching. That is, one major way that I intend to give back to the OSU community is through offering my knowledge of subjects to students. So, I intend to become a tutor/mentor to students in math and physics. Furthermore, I would also be willing to serve as a TA for a course and facilitate the education process for other university students.