Hey Azimuth! I'm Franciscus, a second-year math student in UC Riverside's PhD program. I did my undergrad work at a place called the College of Creative Studies, a small sub-college of UC Santa Barbara geared toward highly self-motivated students working in one or more of eight disciplines: math, physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, literature, art and music composition. I started out in physics but switched to math during my second year, mostly just because it seemed like the most interesting possible thing to do and I felt like I could always come back and study physics in more depth once I got a lot of math under my belt.
(Incidentally, one of my colleagues here at UCR, Frank, who I think we'll see posting around here, also went to CCS! Though somehow he & I never really crossed paths much there.)
My interests have always been somewhat more "humanitarian" than most of the mathematicians I found myself working with after I switched over from physics. On the one hand, I find the pure side of math fascinating, deep, beautiful and all that, but I also start to get weary quickly when I can't connect anything back to the "real world". My favorite branches of math for a long time have been the ones with some visual component: geometry, topology, graph & network theory, etc. - things closely connected to physics, or if not, things you can at least picture. For my senior research project at UCSB, I investigated minimal surfaces (and their higher-dimensional analogs "minimal submanifolds") and some ways to compute an invariant of theirs called the stability index. The same year, I stumbled across "This Weeks Finds..." and the Azimuth Project and immediately sensed some kindred spirits. The idea that biology/ecology would be for math in the 21st century what physics was for math in the last several centuries, just seemed really right and exciting to me, and got me to wondering if I really want to study pure math like algebraic/differential topology all the time. Coming down closer to earth started looking more and more appealing. Later, when I was accepted to UCR's program, I unexpectedly saw John Baez' name on the faculty list and just about did a backflip. :~]
I don't have much in the way of bona-fide original research to my credit as of yet, but I really hope I can be of some use in turning this vision of "green mathematics" to reality!