FCSM's Siegel honored for service to mathematics

By Megan Bradshaw

The award will be presented at the 2017 Joint Mathematics Meetings Prize Session on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 4:25pm in Atlanta, Georgia.

Towson University’s Jess and Mildred Fisher College of Science and Mathematics professor emerita in the mathematics department Martha Siegel, Ph.D., won the 2017 Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Gung and Hu Award.

Martha Siegel with Dean Vanko
Martha Siegel pictured with Dean Vanko at her retirement celebration

The award will be presented at the 2017 Joint Mathematics Meetings Prize Session on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 4:25 p.m. in Atlanta, Georgia.

Siegel received the award for her remarkable leadership in guiding the national conversation on undergraduate mathematics curriculum, particularly as it is affected by fields in applied mathematics, and especially from the perspective of the MAA and its mission.

She served on the TU faculty from 1971 until her retirement in 2015, including a term as department chair from 2000 to 2004. 

Supported by a 1981 NSF grant, she founded the Towson University Applied Mathematics Laboratory (AML), one of the first undergraduate courses in the U.S. featuring student teams working on applied mathematics projects for business, industry, or government clients. The AML has been in continuous operation at Towson for 35 years.

Siegel was a member of the MAA executive committee from 1991 to 2010, serving first in the role of editor of Mathematics Magazine, and subsequently as secretary of the association for 15 years.

She then took on the role of chair of the high-profile Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics as that committee began the process of updating the MAA curriculum guide to undergraduate majors in the mathematical sciences for 2015.

She has been a consistent advocate for the role of applied mathematics, active learning, and real world experiences for students in mathematics courses. In the early 1980s, she was PI for the MAA project, "Discrete Mathematics in the First Two Years," funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Her textbook, “Finite Mathematics and Its Applications” (with Larry Goldstein and David Schneider) is now in its 11th edition, and she is co-author with Sheldon Gordon, Florence Gordon, and Alan Tucker of the pre-calculus text, “Functioning in the Real World.” More recently, Martha was co-PI (with Michael Pearson and Carol Schumacher), on the NSF DUE grant project, “2015 Curriculum Guide to Undergraduate Majors in the Mathematical Sciences,” supporting the complex work of the CUPM. 

While at Towson, Martha has received the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences' Outstanding Faculty Award (1989) as well as the President's Award for Outstanding Service to the University (1991). She has been a member of the Towson University Senate during most of her time at the school, and for more than a decade Martha was a representative of Towson to the Council of University System Faculty of the University System of Maryland, serving as the chairperson twice. For a decade Martha has led the Towson University CoSMiC Scholars Program, an NSF S-STEM scholarship program (totaling over $1 million over its lifetime) focused on enabling economically disadvantaged students to obtain a B.S. in a STEM discipline before entering the workforce or continuing their professional education. While of immediate benefit to Towson University students, these awards also shape the national discussion of what it means to train mathematicians and the importance of providing opportunity to traditionally underrepresented groups.

The Gung and Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics honors individuals’ service to mathematics that has been widely recognized as extraordinarily successful, influencing the field of mathematics or mathematical education in a significant and positive way on a national scale.