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Elise Lockwood on beach

Mathematician garners global recognition for her work in undergraduate education

By Debbie Farris

Elise Lockwood, associate professor of mathematics

Congratulations to mathematician Elise Lockwood, who has received the John and Annie Selden Prize for Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education from the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), the world’s largest community of mathematicians, students and enthusiasts.

Lockwood, who will begin the academic year as a newly promoted associate professor of mathematics, was honored as an outstanding mathematics educator earlier this month at MathFest, the annual summer mathematics conference that celebrates both teaching and research in mathematics, that was held in Denver. She received $500 and a certificate of recognition from the MAA.

Past recipients of the John and Annie Selden Prize hail from institutions such as the University of Warwick, Loughborough University, Rutgers University, Arizona State University and San Diego State University. Lockwood remarked on the “incredible honor to join the company of these past Selden Prize winners.”

At MathFest, she presented a talk on “An Initial Exploration into Undergraduate Students’ Computational Activity in a Combinatorial Setting,” as part of a session on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education.

The international award honors a researcher with a significant record of published research in undergraduate mathematics education and who has worked in the field for no more than 10 years. The prize was created to encourage researchers early in their careers. One award, at most, is given every other year.

“I am extremely honored to receive the Selden Prize. The Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education [RUME] community has been tremendously formative in my professional development. I have felt encouraged and supported since the beginning of my career, and my RUME colleagues continue to challenge me to become a better researcher,” said Lockwood.

"I am also grateful for the example that Annie and John Selden have set – their commitment to mentoring and their genuine love for the field is something I wish to emulate throughout my career."

No stranger to the national spotlight, last year Lockwood received a five-year $800K National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award for her ground-breaking education research project, “Developing Undergraduate Combinatorial Curriculum in Computational Settings.” CAREER Awards are NSF’s most prestigious award for early career faculty who possess the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. She was the first to receive the prestigious award in the Mathematics Department at OSU.

Lockwood’s research focuses on the teaching and learning of combinatorics at the undergraduate level. The field of combinatorics includes enumeration (or “counting”) problems, which involve combinatorial operations such as permutations and combinations. Its applications in probability and discrete mathematics are significant for secondary and post-secondary education. Her research is especially important because evidence strongly indicates that students struggle with combinatorial mathematics, which poses challenges to their success in the classroom.

“This award wouldn't be possible without the support of my mentors, my colleagues and my students, all of whom inspire me and sharpen my thinking. I am grateful to the Mathematics Department and College of Science, who have encouraged me and have fostered a positive collaborative and collegial work environment. It is a joy for me to work at OSU,” said Lockwood.

Lockwood earned her undergraduate degree in mathematics from Wheaton College and her master’s and Ph.D. in mathematics education from Portland State University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison prior to joining OSU.