Marcus G. Miller '08
A self-described “math nerd,” Marcus G. Miller ’08 can talk passionately about his summer research in algebraic combinatorics. But the
A self-described “math nerd,” Marcus G. Miller ’08 can talk passionately about his summer research in algebraic combinatorics. But the mathematics concentrator from Pforzheimer can talk just as passionately about jazz.
The New Jersey native grew up surrounded by his father’s record collection, which totalled about 3,000 vinyl records and CDs. Miller picked up the saxophone at age nine and was playing in New York clubs by high school. At Harvard, you can often find him performing at Hilles Library or the Cambridge Queen’s Head.
The jazz aficionado’s journey towards math wasn’t as simple. Miller originally wanted a career as a professional musician, but planned to concentrate in economics to avoid becoming “a broke professional musician.” But an unpleasant experience in Calculus BC led him to abandon those plans, and Miller vowed to “never touch math again.”
Then Miller took Math 1b his sophomore year, where a course assistant encouraged him to concentrate in mathematics. Soon, Miller was presenting original research at professional math conferences. “The nerve to talk in front of all those people,” he says, “is the same nerve it takes to perform.”
“He has this crazy stage presence, this ridiculous amount of energy, and it’s because he’s so charismatic,” says Malcolm G. Campbell ’10, a pianist who plays with Miller.
It’s this stage presence that’s made Miller a class marshal and a well-known figure in Moral Reasoning 22, “Justice” where he openly debates Professor Michael J. Sandel.
Bryan C. Barnhill ’08, a blockmate, says, “Marcus likes to be a part of things from beginning to end. He even uses slang words before they’re popular.”
Miller’s post-graduation plans, however, won’t involve the stage. He’s decided to accept a job offer in finance.
“The best that can happen is that I enjoy it,” he says. “The worst is that I don’t, but have money to finance other projects I’m passionate about.”
When asked about plans for his senior year, he laughs: “Celebrate,” he says.