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Meet Martin Jones

Martin Jones, mathematics professor

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It would be hard to find someone who lives more simply than Martin Jones. Aside from his fondness for coffee and cats (he’s got four at home), this math professor isn’t much of a consumer.  Jones – who the “Princeton Review” named among the nation’s top 300 professors in 2012 – doesn’t own a car, a television or a cell phone. He gets around town on his steel-framed bicycle, which he bought in 1980 while studying in grad school. He’s also a longtime vegetarian and a fairly recent vegan who many students know through his initiative to promote healthier eating on campus via plant-based diets.

“Living simply is a very liberating thing,” explains Jones. “It gives us time.”

In Jones’ case, much of that time is spent traveling, studying languages and interacting with students. He’s fluent in Spanish, and studies Russian and Mandarin. Last summer, he found time to lead a study abroad trip to China to teach advanced statistical methods at Xiamen University.  He also plays the flute and researches probability and statistical decision theory. But what really gets him revved up, he says, is finding clear-cut ways of sharing his enthusiasm for all things mathematic.

“The students in my class, I think they say to themselves, ‘Hey, whatever’s going on, this cat is into this stuff.’ I try to convince them that math is pretty neat. Essentially, I want them to walk out of class feeling like they get it, feeling like they can do this work.” Pretty simple, you might say.