João Pedro Carvalho

PhD Student
University of Michigan


João Pedro Carvalho is a first-generation mathematician born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had always been interested in math, but that became his main academic interest after middle school, when a teacher at his school encouraged him to participate in the Brazilian Mathematics Olympiad. He participated in many such competitions throughout middle and high school, as he enjoyed being able to think about math in more creative ways than the usual formulaic approach he would see at school. João moved to the US to attend Haverford College, where he completed a B.S. in Math and Linguistics. João is currently a PhD student in mathematics at the University of Michigan, where he also teaches sections of Calculus to undergraduate students. João’s main research interests lie within combinatorics, and he is especially drawn to problems that have some algebraic or enumerative aspect to them. Some of his work has involved generalizations of parking functions, and finding ways to correspond them with generalizations of well-known combinatorial objects and enumerate them. He has also worked in discrete geometry, exploring generalizations of Tverberg’s theorem, including disproving a conjecture about a colorful hyperplane generalization of the theorem. More recently, he completed his senior thesis under the supervision of Prof. Elizabeth Milićević, in which he studied the combinatorics of certain families of polynomials with connection to areas of representation theory and algebraic geometry. João believes that key factors for the success of any person in math is to have good mentors that are willing to guide and help you, and also to have a community in which you feel supported. At Haverford College, he was part of the math department’s student group for diversity and inclusion, hosting events and peer advising sessions focused on providing support to underrepresented students in the major. The group also provided the department with perspectives on diversity initiatives and ways to promote the success of underrepresented groups. João was also an active leader in the college’s Latin American Student Association, helping strengthen ties among the Latinx community on campus and lobbying for the creation of a Latinx Center to better support the community, which was inaugurated in 2021.

“Seeing people from your community, and that look like you, working and succeeding in your field is not only motivating, but also comforting. It shows that your aspirations are possible. Hispanic and Latinx people are and have always been present in the mathematical world, and having a month of the year dedicated to seeing their stories and building community around your identity is invaluable to one’s start and growth in the field.”