Professor Spotlight: Trisha Moller

Trisha Moller joined the Moravian College community in 2008 as an adjunct professor of mathematics. It was just this past year (2016) that she became a full-time visiting professor. Professor Moller earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Lehigh University.

Fun Fact: Dr. Moller is married to Dr. Michael Fraboni, associate professor of mathematics at  Moravian College.

What inspired you to go into your field of study?

All the way up to high school I was going to be an artist, but then [art] became more of a hobby. My best friend in high school was sick at home for an extended time, and the district didn’t have a  math tutor for  long-term illnesses, so my friend wasn’t going to be able to take the math classes she needed to graduate with honors. So our math teacher let me be her tutor. I would go to school and then teach her afterwards. Being able to professionally tutor her helped me fall in love with explaining mathematics.

What do you think makes studying math unique?

Math is so powerful and humbling. That duality. Powerful and humbling. Humbling because you can see where you are in the scope of life, not just space in universal terms, but also in terms of time. Isn’t that humbling? We are smaller than a grain of sand. However, we can’t have a beach without that grain. Math points to something more powerful than us. It came before me and it’s going to remain after me. Math is power. I hope everybody comes out of my math classes feeling that.

What do you enjoy most about your field of study?

I tell students that math is so cool is because there is so much math that has been proven; it’s truth. But not all of math has been solved. I love math because it is so old, and it’s so new. What has been been proven has lasted through the decades. Conjectures have been proved true, and new math is being developed even today. 

To be an educated citizen maybe you need [up to] eighth-grade math. However, math is an art. There here is beauty and art to mathematics. Proofs are beautiful. It is like poetry or climbing a mountain Also, we do math not because of applications that we know will exist in the future. We do math for the things we don’t even know will exist in the future. Chilling. Mind-blowing. They will be thanking our generation in the future.

What job would you have if you couldn’t be a professor, regardless of salary and job outcome?

I would have done something in the art field. I love to craft, sew, and draw. Or I would have been a professional organizer.

What do you now know that you wished you knew when you were in college?

You are going to make mistakes. The path is never straight, and it will never be straight. I believe you should always have a plan but also know it is always going to change. But that’s okay, because then you can keep changing. Don’t be afraid of failure.

What is your biggest student pet peeve?

Students are here to learn. There are so many people and resources at Moravian to help you succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! And don’t wait.

What was the last Netflix show that you binge-watched or the last good book that you read?

I was reading Debbie Macomber books recently because I needed something light. One of my favorite Netflix shows is The IT Crowd, a British Comedy.

What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?

I sewed my own wedding dress and the curtains in our house. My husband and I were in grad school; it was cheaper than buying anything. Then we bought a fixer-upper and have now redone every room.

What’s your spirit animal and why?

Right now, I am thinking a Mother Duck/Goose/Bird.  When birds build their nests, they pluck their own feathers. When my students are having a bad day, I say, “Okay, we are plucking our feathers today.” I work students hard; I give a lot of work. But I hope my students know that I have their best interests at heart.

Because you and Dr. Fraboni are both passionate about math, will you encourage your two sons to become mathematicians?

We don’t care what career they choose. We just want them to be happy and have a love for learning! Math is just natural to us. When they were babies, we would count their steps aloud or ask them questions about addition/subtraction using their toys. We encourage learning in all parts of our lives. I also want them to grow up to be kindhearted, respectable men.