Jeffrey Schatz ’13

Graduate student in logic and philosophy of science
The University of California at Irvine

Early in his academic career, Jeffrey Schatz ’13 had some uncomfortable news to share with his advisor, Professor of Economics Dan Saros. Jeff can still remember the trepidation he felt walking into the office. Finally, he said it: “I’m thinking about adding a philosophy major.”

Professor Saros’ reaction surprised him: he started laughing. Instead of criticizing Jeff for disloyalty, Professor Saros said that he, too, had been a philosophy and economics major. They talked about Professor Saros’ background, his interests, and his parents’ reaction to that academic path.

“At many places, professors might be cold or even hostile to the idea of doing an additional subject,” Jeff says. “There’s something to be said for Valpo, because all the professors were highly encouraging of this. They thought it was very cool that I wanted to connect all of these things.”

That conversation marked a deepening in Jeff’s relationship with Professor Saros and led directly to an opportunity for them to conduct research together. Through the experience, Jeff noticed many of the fundamental assumptions in economics didn’t seem to be well-examined. Professor Saros steered him again to philosophy as a way to look more closely at the process of science and social science.

Jeff graduated from Valpo in 2013 with a triple major in economics, mathematics, and philosophy. That fall, he entered a Ph.D. program at the University of California-Irvine, studying logic and philosophy of science.

Jeff’s current research looks at the intersections between advanced mathematics, philosophy, and the process of science. Because the scientific process relies on selecting random samples, Jeff is studying the field of algorithmic randomness, which offers a precise mathematical definition of a random object. He uses his academic background to see how the math can be used to better understand and better perform the scientific process.

At the core, Jeff says he is asking, ‘How do we know things?’

He says his broad academic program at Valpo has prepared him to ask the question from many perspectives.

“My professors made it clear that the important thing was my interests, not the departmental divisions or course requirements,” he says. “At Valpo, the attitude was, ‘Let’s understand your interests and find a course program that works to develop those interests.’”

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