We asked Lakshmanan to share a bit more about her journey as a Sun Devil.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: When I was looking to transfer from Emory, ASU was the only choice I considered — being from Chandler, it was right by home and an easy choice.

Q: What do you like most about mathematics (and your area of concentration)?

A: Pure math claims to be abstract, or removed from the prosaic inconsistencies of life, but its acme is the diversity of thought of eons and acres of brilliant thinkers. Some of these thinkers stood in the face of incredible hardship in order to find their way to this human understanding of truth.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Dr. Matthias Kawski — he told me to not be afraid of asking for help. This doesn’t just mean academic help, but also in personal life situations.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school?

A: Try to think of professors as people, as opposed to figures of authority. Because I promise, what students are thinking is, "This person is looking at me and seeing a number." But I don't think any of my professors have a good enough memory to actually look at me and know whether or not I turned in a homework assignment that week. That's not what they're seeing when they look at you. They're seeing the person who's engaging with them and asking questions, or presenting an idea of their own.

I have never really been a super focused academic student. I would always go off on side tangents, and that's helped me because it means that I have a lot of professors that I've just walked up to and said, "Hi. Can I work with you on a thing that I have an idea for?" And they often respond in a positive way. That is a thing that you can do because professors, presumably, have some interest in learning as well as teaching — and they have just as much to learn from students as students do from them.

I think that's how you see a professor as a person, is realize that you're important to them just like they're important to you.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: The roof of PSF is always lovely. Otherwise, I enjoy climbing the olive trees behind Goldwater.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time for fun?

A: I love dancing — I’ve been an Indian classical (Bharatanatyam) dancer since I was 4 years old, and I’ve also recently taken up Argentine tango. I also write poetry and enjoy baking.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Education inequality is the problem that, once solved, can solve all the others, I think.

Rhonda Olson

Manager of Marketing and Communication, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences