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The professor’s room: Zachary Kirk

By Cory Phare

November 1, 2017

Zak Kirk in his office.

Zak Kirk likes puzzles. Since he’s an affiliate professor of mathematics, that makes sense – but what is puzzling is how surrounding himself with an artistic maelstrom aids in the act of calculation. Here’s how he has made a shared office his own corner of expression.

  1. This border is an M.C. Escher woodcut print donated to me from a former professor where the images geometrically morph from squares into lizards into honeycombs and so on. Escher’s studies on distorted space and grid systems curved to keep the ratios proper; figuring how to make shapes work like that is mathematical.
  2. Here is my diploma from Miskatonic University, a fictional institution where the characters from [author] H.P. Lovecraft’s work go. I enjoy the imagination and draw a similar kind of inspiration in how to approach my work.
  3. I’m a fifth-degree black belt in taekwondo but actually got my start doing it here at MSU Denver as an undergraduate looking for a class to keep me active. I really enjoyed it, stuck with it and just recently became a coach for the CU Denver team.
  4. These contraptions are a Rubik’s dodecahedron and a cube with gears you need to not only solve for colors but to make it sit flush. I’ve figured them both out a couple of times – it’s really relaxing and Zen-like, as you don’t focus too hard but just enough to pay attention to what you’re doing.
  5. A lot of people think it’s weird to be into both art and math, but to me it’s the same creative process – the same way of thinking about why things are what they are. After trying to do the art thing for a while, I decided to switch to mathematics to make a living; I still paint on the side for personal enjoyment, though.

P.S. Calling all faculty and staff members…
Do you have an interesting office – and would you like to feature it in our series? Just email Cory Phare.

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