​​Inaugural mathematician-in-residence connecting students, faculty with business community

​​Inaugural mathematician-in-residence connecting students, faculty with business community
Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Risk management and data analysis are critical life skills for Grayson Dill ’11, who draws upon these core attributes while scaling mountain summits around the world and working as a wilderness EMT. Along with expertise and drive, they have helped advance his banking career, propelling him to his current position as a risk management leader at Bank of America.

Dill’s expertise and vision have benefited the Charlotte community as he has brought risk management to life in his work as the inaugural mathematician-in-residence in the University’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

“By positioning a local business leader in the department, we have challenged faculty and staff to bring about greater alignment between research and education goals and the needs of the local business community,” said Dill. “We also have challenged students to think more practically about how they might apply mathematics professionally, which will better prepare them for their careers.”

 A centerpiece of the effort has been a one-credit hour class that applies mathematics to business problems commonly encountered in the financial services industry, with special emphasis on risk management.

 “With the help of guest lecturers, we have spotlighted actual examples of risk mitigation,” Dill said. “We challenged students to develop their own creative thinking on the subject through work on a semester project. The seminar constantly reinforced the theme that business is complicated, and mathematics rarely applies neatly. But when applied thoughtfully, mathematical tools can deliver amazing insights and efficiencies.

Graduate student recognizes relevance

Kimberly Mays ‘22, who earned a master’s degree in applied statistics, noted an especially useful aspect of the applied mathematics seminar was seeing varied examples of professional applications of math concepts.

“I appreciated our guest lecturers and the scope of companies they represented,” Mays said. “On a personal note, I also find myself evaluating risk differently as a result of the class. For example, since I took the class, I had two fraudulent bank charges show up on my account, one of which was flagged by the bank as possible fraud and one which was not. It was interesting to consider what decisions and programs led to one charge triggering an automatic alert in the context of what we learned in the seminar.”

 May’s commitment to digging into the class topics resulted in deeper learning.

“My favorite topics were those I really thought through on my own,” she said. “My own involvement made the difference, whether that meant completing outside reading, making time to attend office hours that week or just heading to class with a list of questions.”

Dill said students should be prepared to think about finance and to think creatively about applications of math.

“We have challenged students to understand a holistic approach to problem-solving, including consultation with partners to develop coherent business problems, to use data engineering as a precursor to complex quantitative analysis, and finally, to strategically communicate results,” he added.

As a senior vice president and client quantitative analytics manager, Dill is particularly experienced in business problems related to Bank Secrecy Act compliance and mitigation of financial crimes risk.

He graduated summa cum laude from Charlotte in 2011 with bachelor’s degrees in economics and mathematics with a concentration in political science, after receiving a bachelor’s degree in history from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005. He earned a master’s degree in applied economics from Johns Hopkins University in 2017.

Read more on the College of Liberal Arts & Science’s website.