Lang's sabbatical in Slovenia enriched research, teaching experience
September 26, 2011
By Steven Johnson ’13
Many people desire to travel to different parts of the world. For Dr. Michael Lang, associate professor in mathematics, globetrotting is a way to combine his interest in travel with his passion for mathematics. Most recently, Lang traveled to Slovenia where he pursued research while on sabbatical.
“I went to Slovenia to work with a colleague of mine that I had met in conferences and such before,” Lang said. “I was basically in a dorm room at the University of Ljubljana and just worked on math all semester. It was great because one of the advantages of a sabbatical is getting to focus on your research.”
Lang further elaborated on the culture of Europe, noting how different it was from life in the United States.
“Living in Europe is a great change,” Lang said. “There is a much lesser emphasis on cars, more of an emphasis on friends and family and good food. It balances out the hectic speed of American life.”
In Slovenia, Lang pursued his top research interest, distance regular graphs, in collaboration with his colleague.
“We had three projects that we were working on,” Lang said. “Some things that were a little bit new to each of us we could try and discover together. My area deals with objects that are extremely symmetric. It is closely related to things like the codes that make DVDs and cell phones work and the statistical designs that allow experimenters to separate the effects of one change from those of another.”
Lang noted that an unexpected turn of events heighted his experience, professionally and culturally.
“Incidentally, I also taught some of the students at the University of Ljubljana,” Lang said. “It was not research directly related to the projects I was working on, so I was able to research specifically for the course.”
His opportunity to teach in Europe will enrich his classroom environment back at Bradley.
“The course that I taught in Slovenia did not have a textbook,” Lang said. “One possibility is that I can write the textbook for the course, since I had to go through teaching the class and I could teach a course similar to that here for our students.”
Lang encourages students and others to go abroad and visit Europe, especially Slovenia.
“It’s a beautiful country,” Lang said. “It’s gorgeous and I recommend it to anybody.”