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Joseph A. Gallian, 2007-2008 MAA President

Born: January 5, 1942

Joseph A. Gallian, a mathematics professor at University of Minnesota Duluth, is known for his efforts to increase public understanding and appreciation of mathematics and for his undergraduate research program.

Presidency: 2007-2008

As president, Gallian strived to promote public understanding and appreciation for mathematics. Towards this end he secured funding from the National Security Agency to establish the MAA Disntiguished Lecture Series at The MAA Carriage House. He also obtained funding for the production and distribution of the MAA Women of Mathematics Poster.

While MAA-President-elect, Gallian conceived the idea and raised the funds to make the feature-length documentary film about the U.S. International Mathematical Olympiad team, Hard Problems: The Road to the World's Toughest Math Contest. The film premiered at the 2008 Joint Mathematics Meetings and was broadcast more than 2000 times in its first year of syndication on American Public Television. Upcoming airdates are listed here.

Using data from MAA American Mathematics Competitions, Gallian coauthored a 2008 study of attitudes toward math titled "Cross-Cultural Analysis of Students with Exceptional Talent in Mathematical Problem Solving" (pdf). With its conclusion that "there exist many girls with profound intrinsic aptitude for mathematics; however, they are rarely identified due to socio-cultural, educational, or other environmental factors," the study garnered significant media attention.

Gallian conducted the first MAA staff satisfaction survey, oversaw an ambitious fundraising campaign, secured funding for Project NExT Fellows, and, with MAA Associate Director for Student Activities Robert Vallin, earned a $468,000, five-year National Science Foundation grant to enable undergraduate students to travel to the Joint Mathematics Meetings and MathFest.

Education and Career

Gallian obtained a B.A. from Slippery Rock University in 1966, an M.A. from the University of Kansas in 1968, and a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1971. After serving as a visiting assistant professor at Notre Dame for one year, he went to theUniversity of Minnesota Duluth, where he is a Morse Alumni Distinguished University Professor of Teaching and Professor of Mathematics.

Among his honors are the MAA Haimo Award for distinguished teaching, the Council on Undergraduate Research Fellow Award for excellence in conducting research with undergraduates, the MAA Allendoerfer and Evans awards for exposition, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Minnesota Professor of the Year in 2003. He has been MAA Pólya Lecturer, MAA second vice president, codirector of the MAA's Project NExT, associate editor of the American Mathematical Monthly and Mathematics Magazine, and an advisory board member for Math Horizons and MAA FOCUS.

Since 1977, Gallian has run a summer mathematics research program for undergraduates. More than 160 research papers written by undergraduates under his supervision in the program have been published in professional journals. Now an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) (the NSF REU program did not exist until 1986), the program has been exceptionally successful and called the gold standard of REUs by colleagues. The current popularity of mathematics REU sites across the United States can be attributed in large part to the success of Gallian's original program.

Gallian has given more than 250 invited lectures at conferences, colleges, and universities and is the author or editor of six books and more than 100 articles. He has given 66 invited talks at MAA section meetings and has spoken at 28 of the 29 MAA sections. He served as chair of the 2003 and 2010 Mathematics Awareness Month committees.

In addition to the usual math courses, he has taught a humanities course called the "The Lives and Music of the Beatles" for more than 25 years and a liberal arts course on math and sports. In 2000, a Duluth newspaper cited him as one of the "100 Great Duluthians of the 20th Century."

External Resources

Faculty website at the University of Minnesota Duluth and vita

Communicating Mathematics: A Conference in Honor of Joseph A. Gallian's 65th birthday biographical sketch

Council on Undergraduate Research 2002 Fellows biographical sketch

A Break for Mathematics: An Interview with Joe Gallian (pdf), Deanna Haunsperger, College Mathematics Journal

The Mathematics Genealogy Project