PhD Graduation at UofT

Tom Baird was born in Gander, Newfoundland where he spent his formative years slacking off, bullying his younger brother, and building snow forts. As a high school student, he participated in the Blundon Seminar at Memorial University of Newfoundland where he saw Professor Peter Booth perform a magic trick using topology. Tom would later credit this mathemagical sleight of hand for influencing his later career choice.

After graduation, Tom defected to the mainland to study Math and Physics at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. It is a little known fact that he nearly flunked his first year Calculus course. While at Queen’s, he met a girl and quickly got his act together. Despite an inauspicious beginning, Tom graduated with first class honours, a major in Math and a minor in Physics. While at Queen’s Tom dabbled in combinatorics and worked closely with Professor Dom De Caen.

Mathematician or Sith?

The University of Toronto invited Tom to join their graduate school and it was there that he discovered string theory, topology and a way to combine his two interests in mathematics and physics. Under the mentorship of Lisa Jeffrey and Paul Selick, he published a dissertation called Moduli spaces of flat G-bundles over nonorientable surfaces. A thrilling read, it is sure to top the best seller list any day now. A generous NSERC award allowed Tom to defer adulthood for two years while he conducted postdoctoral work at the Fields Institute in Toronto and the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford.

In 2010, the elastic band that is tied to every Newfoundlander pulled Tom back to St. John’s. He was pleased to accept an Assistant Professorship at Memorial University where he is an enthusiastic participant in the Blundon Seminar.