HMC Math Professor Wins Teaching Award

Harvey Mudd College Mathematics Professor Susan Martonosi won the Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning Faculty Member from the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) last month. She will formally receive the award this summer.       

The Alder Award is presented to a faculty member who has taught math for two to seven years. According to the MAA website, nominees for the award should “be recognized as extraordinarily successful in their teaching,” “have effectiveness in teaching undergraduate mathematics that can be documented,” and “have influence in their teaching beyond their own classrooms.”    

Martonosi credits several sources with contributing to her teaching style. 

“I learned a lot about effective teaching from my colleagues,” Martonosi said. “What excited me about this place is the chance to work with really top-notch students, but also to have a whole cadre of faculty colleagues who are dedicated to teaching and care deeply about teaching effectively.”     

Martonosi also participated in a professional development program called Project New Experiences in Teaching (Project NExT) upon her arrival at Harvey Mudd. Project NExT fellows learn how to incorporate student research into teaching mathematics, implement technology in course instruction and use new teaching formats.    

Martonosi’s area of focus within mathematics is operations research, which she described as the study of using scarce resources efficiently.           

“It’s not as common for faculty members to work with undergraduates in research,” Martonosi said of her field. “One of the things I am trying to do is have more undergraduates participate in the annual INFORMS [Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences] conference by presenting research.” 

INFORMS is an annual conference on business analytics and operations research.    

Martonosi is excited to further improve her teaching practices. She is interested in “new research being done about effective ways of teaching mathematics and new techniques” of teaching. For example, she is interested in trying out the “inverted classroom,” a teaching method favored by one of her colleagues. 

“He actually videotapes his lectures ahead of time and the students watch those lectures outside of class and then class time is spent working on problems,” Martonosi said of her colleague.         

Paul Hobbs HM ’12 is a student in Martonosi’s Advanced Topics in Operations Research class. He said that he appreciates the “rigorous bottom-up approach” of the class. 

“The interactive lecture accompanied by note-taking skeletons stimulates me to actively think ahead and follow the train of thought,” he said.    

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have Susan on our faculty. She has created a wealth of opportunities for our students,”said Harvey Mudd Mathematics Department Chair Andrew Bernoff. “Her innovative and successful teaching and caring mentoring of our students is truly extraordinary. I feel fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who value high-quality teaching and who are committed to producing students who will thrive in their future careers.”

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