Aparna Higgins


Aparna W. Higgins of the University of Dayton has been awarded the 1995 Ohio Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.

The award was presented during the Ohio Section meetings held April 21, 1995 at The Ohio State University in Columbus. The award is presented to those who are widely recognized as successful teachers, have had an influence in their teaching of mathematics beyond their own institutions and foster curiosity and generate excitement about mathematics in their students.

Higgins is particularly known for motivating her students to excel at all levels of mathematics. She has proven to be effective not only in precalculus courses where math apathy and anxiety are major obstacles to learning but has an impressive record of guiding student research for Honors Theses where topics range from differential geometry to graph theory. She presents problems, poses questions and pushes students to refine their answers until they are rigorous and precise.

Innovation and total quality are hallmarks of Higgins' work. Several of her students in the Honors Program have won national awards for their papers and she has inspired many students to pursue graduate school work in mathematics.

Her work has also gained national recognition, especially through her direction of a National Science Foundation sponsored summer program called Research Experiences for Undergraduates. She brought a small group of students, from the best universities in the country, together for seven weeks of guided research followed by attending a conference where the students present their work to the mathematical community.

Earning rave reviews from her students, Higgins also serves as a role model for woman in mathematics. A student writes, "She is an example of a successful woman who is intelligent, humorous and feminine." Another former student has written, " She utilizes her energies to draw out creative and mature mathematical work from undergraduates through her own love for mathematics and her (admittedly twisted) sense of humor."

An active member of the Ohio Section, she is a founding member of the MAA Committee on Student Chapters and is currently its chair. She is on the Advisory Board of Math Horizons, the new undergraduate math magazine, and is a frequently invited speaker at national conferences, and math clubs in colleges and high schools.

In addition to being a catalyst for student research, Higgins has authored papers in abstract algebra and graph theory. Her paper titled, "Subfields as Subgroups and Subspaces: A Little Algebraic Equivalence" appeared in the Mathematical Gazette. Dr. Higgins, a native of Bombay, India, received her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame (1983) and has been a member of the University of Dayton's faculty since 1984. She is married to Bill Higgins of Wittenberg University and they have two sons.

Aparna may be contacted at higgins@saber.udayton.edu