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Sharing a Passion for Mathematics
Lindsay Childs discovered a passion for mathematics as an undergraduate student, and for more than four decades, he’s shared that excitement with his students at the University at Albany.
He’s earned recognition as a much-loved mentor of students, as well as a renowned expert in algebraic field theory. The recipient of many accolades, he was most recently recognized for his contributions when he was named a Collins Fellow.
"Professor Childs is a voice for the University's common and critical purposes and functions. He has been among the very best of our citizens, one who can be relied on to look beyond specialized interests for the results that serve the larger, common good," said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan Phillips.
"The Collins Award is especially meaningful for me, because it reflects my continued sense of responsibility for the mission of the University even as UAlbany has matured into a major research university," said Childs.
The award, named for former UAlbany President Evan Revere Collins (who served from 1949-1969), recognizes senior teaching faculty who have shown "extraordinary devotion to the University and the people in it over a sustained period of time." Childs was named a Collins Fellow at UAlbany’s December 2009 commencement.
Childs was an undergraduate at Wesleyan when he discovered his passion for mathematics. One day the professor proposed to the class an unsolved problem in elementary group theory, which Childs eventually solved.
"The realization that I could do something creative in mathematics was very exciting," said Childs, who went on to earn a doctorate from Cornell. "Throughout my career, I've continually tried to recreate that excitement with my research. I've also tried to share that excitement with my graduate and undergraduate students, and related to that, to try to have students in my courses understand that mathematics is a living science with many remarkable new results only discovered within my lifetime." In 2002 Childs won the University's President's Award for Excellence in Research.
The math department has been central to Childs' life and career. He met his wife Rhonda there, and they wed in 1972. He served as department chair in the early 1980s and again in 1991.
Students describe Childs as a gifted mathematician who is helpful and accessible. "I've tried to be available to students as much as possible," he said. "Advising, encouraging, and working with students outside of class has been an important part of my work, and I hope that our interaction has helped them to get more out of their educational experience at Albany."