He took the psychedelic pop path to math

By Carol Clark | eScienceCommons | Aug. 6, 2013

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Robert Schneider in a promotional photo for the Apples in Stereo. "I love music, but I'm also really obsessed with math," he says. "That's my focus now." Photo by Adam Cantor.

By the numbers, Robert Schneider is not your average PhD student of math. He is 42 years old and just finished his first year of graduate school, working under Emory number theorist Ken Ono. Schneider didn't even enroll in college math classes until 2004, when he was in his mid-30s.

"I'm rough around the edges. I'm an untamed mathematician," he says, "but I'm working on that."

Schneider's bright blue eyeglasses, pink hoodie jacket and buoyant personality give further clues that he is not your typical academic.

In fact, Schneider is a well-known figure in the underground music scene as the co-founder of the Elephant Six Recording Company and the indie band the Apples in Stereo. He's a composer, sound engineer, producer, singer, songwriter and musician. He played at the Democratic National Convention where Barack Obama was first nominated for president and has made guest appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and the Colbert Report. In addition to having a cult following, Schneider's music has enjoyed broader commercial success, and can be heard on the sound tracks of dozens of commercials.

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