When UNLV math and science student Michael Schwob graduates, packs up his life in a U-Haul, picks up his girlfriend, and drives to the University of Texas at Austin this summer, it will be his first time in Texas. The first time he passes through New Mexico. The first time he lives anywhere but Las Vegas.
It will be the farthest he’s been from his deeply analytical family: his dad has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from UNLV and is working on his doctorate here; his sister is working on her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at UNLV, his step-father is a construction superintendent on the Strip, and his mom is a secondary science teacher. One imagines their dinner conversations — “We definitely learn from each other,” he said.
Schwob will graduate with a bachelor's in mathematics and will be pursuing his doctorate in statistics. At UNLV, the Honors College student racked up dozens of awards and scholarships, published multiple papers, and accumulated accolades galore. National recognition includes the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and a 2018 Congressional Scholar award.
At UNLV, he has received the Bhatnagar Award, Brenda and Russell L. Frank Honors Scholarship, Chris McNamee Memorial Scholarship, and an LV Sands Sustainability Research Award. To cap it off, he is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2021-26).
You might think a guy who published “Modeling Cell Communication with Time-Dependent Signaling Hypergraphs” would be difficult to talk with, but you’d be wrong. Schwob is an easy-going, funny brainiac who, like the rest of us, has spent the pandemic binge-watching Netflix and fighting off the temptation to snack constantly.
“My girlfriend and I are watching Ink Master,” he says of his latest TV indulgence. “That’s what it’s come down to.”
His girlfriend, Angelica Mayor, graduated with a bachelor's in social work in winter 2020 and is headed to Austin with him to start her career.
Schwob is quick with a joke, but also happy to offer his advice for the next generation of UNLV STEM undergraduates. What made his undergraduate career so successful, besides coming from a family full of “quantitative personalities”?
Here’s the lowdown from Michael Schwob, a smart guy who couldn’t decide what to wear for his photo session (“I had a little fashion show for my girlfriend to help me decide.”):
- Reach out to your professors. Professors held my hand for as long as I needed it. A professor let me read a formal research paper when I was a freshman, and I had a near mental breakdown because it seemed so far out of my range but eventually I grew into it. The professor took a chance on me. I had no tangible skill set – I could play soccer. But it’s important to get comfortable with the professors and they will help you. So I say, don’t hesitate to reach out to professors.
- Have fun with your research. My first tangible goal was to publish a research paper before I graduated, and it happened way quicker than I thought (sophomore year). Then after that I just started having fun with my research, I just started to play around with ideas, and I’ve published more by exploring and having fun and it’s great. When I started focusing less on accolades and more on having fun, I was able to produce more research papers.
- Build a support system. I have a really good support system. I want to emphasize that my success is crowdsourced in a way. Family and friends and professors have all helped build a support system for me. I never had to look far for help. UNLV has a lot of resources.
If the timing is right, Schwob "would love to come back and teach at UNLV.” He plans to be a professor in a research-track position, and chose UT Austin because of a relationship with a particular professor there. But, said the lifelong Las Vegan, he’s a Rebel at heart.