Micah McCurdy (BSc'06)

A day in the life

Micah McCurdy (BSc'06)

mccurdy_micah_photo credit_anna mccurdy_crop_1

In retrospect, doing a combined honours in physics and math was pretty exhausting—but at the time, it was exhilarating.

Inspired to pursue research and an academic career

“Dalhousie was very hard, but incredibly rewarding,” says Micah McCurdy. “I loved almost all of my classes and the student societies were a big part of my life. I was very, very involved and busy all four years.”

After graduating from Dal in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) with First Class Honours in Mathematics and Physics—and several awards—Micah has focused entirely on math. Before starting his PhD at Macquarie University in Australia, he attended Cambridge. “I wasn't sure if I was ready for real research, but while doing the master’s, I found I really wanted to get back to it.”

Micah believes individual mentorship from several professors was the most valuable aspect of his undergraduate education. “Several Dal professors were good, but two stand out especially. First,” he recalls, “Jordan Kyriakidis put a lot of effort into his classes and showed enormous patience with my constant questions.”

“And Andrew Rutenberg supervised two of my NSERC undergrad research awards. I only took one class from him,” Micah says, “but his mentorship and guidance cannot be overstated. He’s one of the reasons I seriously pursued an academic career.”

Micah notes that professors in Dalhousie’s Math Department were also extremely important. “I would have had a terrible time pursuing my combined honours if not for the close relationship between the two departments.”

But all of his academic accomplishments pale in comparison, Micah says, to his marriage. “I had an amazing fourth year at Dal, with 10 A+ marks, of which I was once over-proud,” he admits. “But a few years of travelling the world with my wife Anna certainly adds some perspective.”

Micah recently accepted a one-year post-doc at Saint Mary’s University (SMU). “It’s fantastic, since both my wife and I would like to live permanently in Halifax,” he says. “Likely, we'll have to leave Halifax again before we settle down—such is the academic life—but we're happy to be back for now.”

Professionally, he’s had some highlights too. “Probably the most satisfying moment was when a woman—whose intellect and knowledge dwarf mine—used one of my ideas to improve her research. In math, it's rare to feel ‘useful’ in the conventional sense,” Micah explains, noting that theoretical research has a different purpose than applied research, “so it's lovely to see one's ideas be helpful.”

Photo: Anna McCurdy