Tennessee Tech professor wins 12th annual Louise Hay Award for women in mathematics

Tennessee Tech University math professor Annie Selden has been awarded the 12th annual Louise Hay Award by the Association for Women in Mathematics.

Named for the former head of the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the award is intended to highlight the importance of mathematics education by recognizing outstanding achievements in that field.

Selden’s accomplishments include being a key supporter for establishing the Association for Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education, which is now a special interest group of the Mathematical Association of America. Selden currently serves as the group’s coordinator.

In addition, she has served as editor or editorial board member for a number of mathematics education publications, including the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, UME Trends and The College Mathematics Journal.

"It is no easy task to try to convey, in an engaging yet faithful way, the results of research in one area (mathematics education) to its potential consumers in another (the mathematics community). Good expository work in any field ought to be regarded as a valid scholarly endeavor," she said.

Selden earned her undergraduate degree at Oberlin College in Ohio and her master’s at Yale University.

After completing her doctorate at Clarkson University and before beginning her career at TTU, Selden taught mathematics for 11 years at various universities overseas to Turkish, Nigerian and other students whose native language was not English.

"Perhaps as a consequence, I developed an interest in problems of teaching and learning. Why, if one explains things slowly and well – with many interesting examples, do so many students not learn? Surely, I thought, such questions have answers," she said.

She began to pursue research into that question, and she said she was "pleasantly surprised to learn that such efforts at investigating how students think about mathematics were regarded as a legitimate and important research area with well-developed criteria and standards."

Selden said she credits her success to her husband and research collaborator, John Selden; to her students; and to TTU, all of whom encouraged her to work "in new, exciting directions."