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Barry Spieler Is MAA's New Visiting Mathematician

Barry Spieler has been a member of the MAA since he was a sophomore at Tufts University. Now a professor of mathematics at Birmingham-Southern College, Spieler is getting the opportunity to work with the association to which he has belonged for so long—as this fall's visiting mathematician at MAA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

After receiving his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1992 with an emphasis in topology, Spieler became an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University later that year, before moving on to Birmingham-Southern in 1994. Birmingham-Southern is a small, regional school, and Spieler is looking forward to being able to accomplish some things at the national level during his time at the MAA.

"I want to deal with some smaller-school issues, topics like curriculum at the undergraduate level and mentoring . . . pedagogical issues," Spieler notes. He is an MAA Project NExT fellow.

Spieler is also working to spread the word about an inquiry-based learning system called the Moore Method. The idea behind the technique is that the content of a class is presented almost in full by the students, and that their increased participation, coupled with less lecturing by a professor, will increase the students' retention of the subject matter.

Spieler's term as MAA visiting mathematician follows that of Simmons College professor Donna Beers, who held the title last fall. The position benefits both the individual who occupies it and the association. It allows a member not only to assist MAA staff on certain projects but also to get an inside look at how the association's day-to-day operations work and share that insight with other members.

"I have what I need: an office with a phone and an Internet connection, and the chance to work with some really cool people," Spieler says. "It couldn't have worked out better."—R. Miller

News Date: 
Wednesday, September 26, 2007