2018 PLENARY SPEAKERS

Michael Pearson
Michael Pearson
Executive Director, MAA


Solving Problems: MAA American Mathematics Competitions and Evolving Views of Mathematics Education

Through its years as the American High School Mathematics Examination and now as the AMC, MAA competitions programs illustrate the evolving views of what constitutes effective mathematical problem solving, as well as identifying and cultivating mathematical talent. We'll take a leisurely tour through more than a half-century of the Association's efforts to advance mathematics through competitions.


Michael Pearson's bio

Michael Pearson received a bachelor's degree from the University of Mississippi in 1980, a master's degree from Mississippi State University in 1982 and a Ph.D. (Harmonic Analysis) from The University of Texas at Austin in 1989. Prior to joining the MAA (in 2002), he served on the faculty at Florida International University (1989-1992) and Mississippi State University (1992-2002).

As Executive Director, Michael provides leadership to further the mission of the MAA to advance the mathematical sciences, especially at the collegiate level. As a long-time member of the MAA, he is delighted to have the opportunity to work closely with colleagues who share the sense of community and common purpose that he sees as the fundamental strength of the Association.

Previously at the MAA, Michael served as Associate Executive Director and Director of Programs and Services. During that time he oversaw significant growth in the scope of activities offered by the association that encourage and support faculty development, including the MAA Professional Enhancement Program (PREP), programs for engaging students such as the Regional Undergraduate Mathematics Conference program, and efforts to increase public awareness and appreciation of mathematics, such as the Distinguished Lecture Series at the new MAA Carriage House conference center.


Jacqueline Jensen-Vallin
Jacqueline Jensen-Vallin
Editor, MAA FOCUS
Associate Professor
Director of First-Year Mathematics Education
Lamar University

Let's Get Knotty!

My early interest in numbers and patterns lead me down a (nonlinear) path to mathematics, which has led me to the twisty world of knots. Mathematically, knots are non-intersecting closed curves in space. We will use sequences and patterns to explore this world and play with a classic question in knot theory - given a knot diagram, how do I identify the knot? There will be plenty of examples, conjectures, and fun!


Jacqueline Jensen-Vallin's Bio

Jacqueline Jensen-Vallin is Editor of MAA FOCUS. She earned her Ph.D. from University of Oregon in 2002, and then taught at Sam Houston State University and Slippery Rock University before settling at Lamar University, where she is now the Director of the First-Year Math Experience. She is a member of the MAA Congress and winner of the MAA’s Alder Award for Outstanding Teaching by a beginning faculty member in 2008. She is also co-editor of Springer's Women in Mathematics: Celebrating the Centennial of the Mathematical Association of America, due out in January 2018.