Who I am

Who I am

I come from a land down under,
where the beer flows and the men chunder.
Can't you hear - can't you hear the thunder?
You better run - better take cover!

I was born in Adelaide, Australia on July 17, 1975 (the day Apollo and Soyuz docked!), and lived there until 1992.  My Chinese name is 陶哲.

aussie flag

Both my parents are Chinese, and I have lived in the US since 1992; however I consider myself primarily an Australian. This doesn't mean that I wrestle crocodiles in the outback, but I do like Vegemite and meat pies (though not simultaneously), Aussie rules and cricket, Pom-bashing and Kiwi-rivalry, and above all Australia's easy-going, honest, and relaxed culture.

sydney 2000

I attended Blackwood High School from 1983 to 1988.  I was in the Australian IMO team in 1986, 1987, and 1988.


I am a SET member, and was also in the RSI program (Research Science Institute) in 1989.


From 1989 to 1992 I did a B.Sc.(Hons) and M.Sc. in Mathematics at the Flinders University of South Australia, the latter under the direction of Garth Gaudry. No, I didn't really complete two degrees in four years; I attended Flinders part-time before my formal enrolment, and they decided to count those courses toward my degree.


From 1992 to 1996 I completed a Ph.D. in Mathematics at Princeton University. My thesis advisor was Elias Stein. I'm especially honoured to have received a Sloan Dissertation Fellowship for my final year of study here.  Here's the rest of my graduating class.

Fine Hall

And now I'm a Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.  I was at MSRI in the fall of 1997, at the University of New South Wales as a Visiting Fellow for the summer and fall of 1999, and as a Visiting Professor for the summer and fall of 2000, and at Australian National University for summer and fall of 2001.  My travel was supported by NSF grant 9706764, the Sloan foundation, and the Packard foundation.  I was also a Clay Prize Fellow from 2001 to 2003.  I am a MacArthur Fellow from 2007 to 2011.

UCLA Bruin

Congregati ex toto orbe mathematici ob scripta insignia tribuere.


I am happily married with one son and one daughter. In 2009, I became a dual citizen of both the US and Australia, having spent approximately half my life in each country.


My Erdős number is 2, my Bacon number is infinite, and my Colbert number is 0 my Colbert number is 5.


But no matter how far or how wide I roam...I still call Australia home