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NSF Awards UAlbany Professor $635,000 to Research Underrepresentation of Women and Minorities in Mathematics Programs

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 6, 2004) -- Mathematics Education Assistant Professor Abbe Herzig has received a $635,000 National Science Foundation grant to conduct a study aimed at helping graduate mathematics programs recruit, retain, and graduate a more diverse student body.

The grant will enable Herzig to investigate the participation of women and of Latinos, Chicanos, African Americans, and Native Americans in graduate study. As part of her research, she will conduct case studies of graduate mathematics programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; University of Maryland, College Park; Rice University; University of New Mexico; and American University. “These five programs were selected,” she said, “because they are programs in which students who are traditionally underrepresented in mathematics have succeeded in unusually large numbers relative to national averages.”

Herzig will carry out these case studies based on interviews with faculty and graduate students; observations in classes, seminars, and other public activities in the departments, and collection of artifacts, such as reports and grant proposals. “I will also do an on-line survey and in-depth interviews with a national sample of mathematics graduate students - women and students of color - to assess their experiences in graduate mathematics more broadly,” she said.

Ultimately, Herzig, whose research focuses on equity and social justice in math and science education at all levels, will recommend guidelines for faculty and policymakers to use to increase student diversity in mathematics doctoral programs. These recommendations will be submitted to journals read by mathematicians and mathematics educators, presented at mathematics conferences, and disseminated through other means.

Herzig joined UAlbany’s Department of Educational Theory and Practice in 2003 after two years as a faculty member in the Department of Learning and Teaching at Rutgers University. Formerly a statistician for Consumers Union, Herzig has consulted for the United Nations, Yale University's School of Medicine, and the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP; she was also on staff at Brookhaven National Laboratory and later served as a consultant there. Her publications include two currently in press: "Mathematics Instruction that Works for Girls" in Searching for Solutions: A Guide for Empowering the Beginning Teacher of Mathematics (M. Chappell, ed.), and "Slaughtering this beautiful math: Graduate women choosing and leaving mathematics" (Gender and Education).

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