SIAM News Blog

SIAM Sponsors Two New Project NExT Fellows

By Kathleen Kavanagh, Manuchehr Aminian, and Alvaro Ortiz

SIAM recognizes the importance of supporting the professional development of junior faculty, especially in the areas of teaching and applied mathematics education. While the Activity Group on Applied Mathematics Education (SIAG/ED) certainly addresses this need, SIAM began annually sponsoring two Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) Fellows for the first time last year. Project NExT, which is run by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), supports the professional development of new or recent Ph.D.s in the mathematical sciences. As per the MAA, the program “addresses all aspects of an academic career: improving the teaching and learning of mathematics, engaging in research and scholarship, finding exciting and interesting service opportunities, and participating in professional activities.”

Workforce preparation and the fulfillment of industry requirements begin with excellence in applied mathematics education. Junior faculty actively foster a global appreciation for mathematics by inspiring and empowering students from different backgrounds to solve complex, real-world problems. However, not everyone who graduates with a Ph.D. in mathematics inherently possesses the right resources or training experience to thrive in an academic setting. One of Project NExT’s most valuable features is the network of peers and mentors that it provides to Fellows as they navigate their new careers.

Manuchehr Aminian, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
During their first year in the program, each cohort of Project NExT Fellows participates in a range of workshops at MAA’s MathFest and the Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM). Recent workshop topics included managing time efficiently, forming a vibrant and inclusive community, incorporating modeling in differential equations, orienting one’s classroom around inquiry, and preparing students for industry careers. SIAM’s Project NExT Fellows are also strongly encouraged to participate in SIAG/ED meetings and partake in activities that are associated with the SIAM Education Committee, such as the organization of SIAM-sponsored events at JMM and MathFest.

In 2020, Carl Giuffre (Adelphi University) and Lidia Mrad (Mount Holyoke College) became the first two SIAM Project NExT Fellows. The 2021 SIAM Project NExT Fellowship was recently awarded to Manuchehr Aminian and Alvaro Ortiz. Aminian is an assistant professor at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His research interests include the analysis of passive tracers in advection-diffusion systems, anomaly detection and feature selection in large biological data sets, and mathematical data science in general. Aminian strongly believes that genuine application problems and numerical mathematics can positively impact both mathematics students and other majors. Math educators must take a leading role in familiarizing students—the future leaders—with modeling, data, and algorithms, all of which already play a central role in everyday life. He has incorporated these ideas into a variety of classes during his early teaching career, ranging from first-semester calculus for biologists to undergraduate numerical analysis.

Aminian has found his SIAM membership to be extremely useful for keeping up with the cutting edge of applied mathematics via conferences, activity groups, and the print version of SIAM News. Project NExT complements his objectives by promoting evidence-based teaching practices—such as inquiry-based learning and projects—and providing a peer network of early-career faculty with whom to compare notes and effect broader change in the applied mathematics community and beyond.

Alvaro Ortiz, Georgia Gwinnett College.
Alvaro Ortiz is currently an assistant professor in the School of Science and Technology at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC). He earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Cincinnati, where he utilized a blend of network modeling, differential equations, and numerical methods to study the dynamics of biological contamination in water distribution systems with biofilms. Now he calls on applied mathematics for academic research and teaching. As an advocate for active and project-based learning and teaching philosophies, Ortiz uses real-world occurrences to illustrate and promote the discovery of mathematical ideas. The Project NExT Fellowship has connected him with like-minded educators and fostered hands-on experience with new technologies for information and communication, which are essential in classrooms during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Ortiz plans to rely on both SIAM and Project NExT as resources and points of support as he continues to create engaging courses and bolster the applied mathematics major at GGC through projects in mathematical biology, video game design, and network modeling.

To apply for the Project NExT Fellowship, candidates must submit a personal statement, research statement, one-page curriculum vitae, and letter of support from their department chairs. Eligibility requirements include a recent Ph.D. in mathematics, statistics, mathematics education, or another math-intensive field. Applicants must also currently hold a teaching position and have experiences, attitudes, ideas, and leadership abilities that would positively contribute to the cohort. To be considered for the SIAM position, candidates must indicate their SIAM membership on their applications. An MAA committee makes all final selections. The next application deadline is April 15, 2021; more information is available online

There is no doubt that the impact of one exceptional faculty member can have a far reach within both SIAM and the wider scientific community. SIAM is eager to advance applied mathematics education for the next generation of interdisciplinary problem-solvers.

  Kathleen Kavanagh is a professor of mathematics at Clarkson University and the Vice President for Education at SIAM. 
Manuchehr Aminian is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His interests include mathematical modeling, visualization, and mathematical methods in data science. 
Alvaro Ortiz is an assistant professor of mathematics in the School of Science and Technology at Georgia Gwinnett College. He is interested in mathematical biology, network modeling, math methods for game design, and math education. 
blog comments powered by Disqus