## Faculty and Staff Awards

### DOV ZAZKIS

#### Charles Wexler Teaching Award

Endowed by Helen and Jonathan D. Wexler

Assistant Professor

Joined ASU in 2015

PhD Mathematics and Science Education

Joint program of SDSU and UCSD, San Diego

Born in Zafet, Israel

Raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

**Why did you originally decide to study mathematics, and then decide to teach it at the university level?**

I had a physics lab partner that liked to shine lasers in my eye. So I dropped out of physics, switched to mathematics and never looked back.

**What is something you learned while at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective?**

If you give mathematics majors an interesting enough problem to work on in groups, they work on the problem, because it's more interesting than the things on their phones.

**What is your favorite course to teach, and why?**

MAT300, It's a really good transition point. So if it's done well it's the best opportunity to help students form a life long love of mathematics.

### BETH SCHLENKER

**Outstanding Instruction and Service Award**

Supported by the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

Senior Lecturer

Joined ASU in 2004

Master of Education, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff

Born in Milwaukee, WI

Raised in Milwaukee, WI

**Why did you originally decide to study mathematics, and then decide to teach it at the university level?**

When I started college, I was an accounting major. As I walked to one of my classes, I would see the campus day care center. Seeing the children outside playing just made me smile. As that semester went on, I knew I wanted to teach. It was my calling. I knew I did not want to teach pre-school, however. I originally wanted to be an accountant; math was my obvious choice to teach. I taught math in the public school system from 1990 - 2001. I then became the math specialist for the school district through 2004. One day I received a call letting me know that there was an opening at ASU in the mathematics department. It had always been my goal to someday teach mathematics at a university level. It came sooner than I expected, and I am thankful for it every day.

**What do you like most about teaching mathematics?**

When a lesson is going well and you can see the students faces of wonderment and understanding, it gives me a natural high. Along with goosebumps. I live for moments like this.

### LANCE WARD

**Outstanding Instruction and Service Award**

Supported by the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

Senior Lecturer

Joined ASU in 1993

Master of Mathematics, Brigham Young University, Utah

Born in California

Raised in California, Missouri, New Mexico, and Oklahoma

**Why did you originally decide to study mathematics, and then decide to teach it at the university level?**

I decided to study mathematics because I always enjoyed my mathematics classes when I used to study engineering. Math classes were always the “icing on the cake”, the classes I most enjoyed each semester. I decided to teach at the university level because I enjoy teaching adult students who attend class because they desire to, and I wanted to be near the many learning experiences that a university offers.

**What is something you learned while at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective?**

I learned that being a teacher really is what I want to do when I grow up. When I started teaching, I didn’t know this. Teaching at first was just a job. But now it is what I love to do.

### CINDY EILTS

#### Michelle Howe Staff Award for Outstanding Service

Supported by the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

Student Services Coordinator Associate

Joined ASU in 2015

Born in Minneapolis, MN

Raised in Weyerhaeuser, WI

**What does receiving the Michelle Howe Staff Award for Outstanding Service mean to you? **

I was not expecting this! I’ve always held a high work ethic for myself and do my job to the best of my abilities but I recognize that many others in the department do the same, so to be selected as the recipient for Outstanding Service is an honor! I appreciate this recognition by my peers to be nominated for this award. It is a great encouragement after everything that has happened in the world this past year. It means a lot, so thank you! I have had a positive experience with the department and ASU as a whole. I was fortunate to have Michelle Howe train me in several areas of my position. She was kind, cared about others, had a great work ethic, a big heart, the best laugh and was a genuine delight to be around. Being nominated for the award in her name truly is an honor and again I want to say thank you.

#### Sun Devil Awards for Service

30 years

Beth** Jones
John Jones
Faris Odish
Joe Rody
Jack Spielberg
Paul Vaz (in memoriam)
Bruno Welfert**

25 years

**Marilyn Carlson
Sergei Suslov**

20 years

**Mark Ashbrook
Igor Fulman
Christopher Heckman
Richard Reynolds
Maura Weidl-Giles
Douglas Williams**

#### Sun Devil Awards for Service

15 years

**Kyeong Hah Roh**

10 years

**Joe Davis
Alan O'Bryan**

5 years

**Melissa Delgado
David Fishman
Ileana Ionascu
Marko Samara
Melanie Smock
Dov Zazkis
Ye Zhang**

## Graduate Awards and Fellowships

### LUKE BAKER

#### GPSA Teaching Excellence Award

Supported by Graduate and Professional Students Association

Working toward PhD in Applied Mathematics and

MS in Electrical Engineering

BS and MS in Mathematics

Cleveland State University, OH

Born and raised in Cleveland, OH

**What is something you learned while at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective?**

I learned that there are many details in research and teaching that I was not aware of, including searching and planning for conferences; searching literature and planning research papers; writing applications for fellowships, grants, and awards; delivering and responding to emails; directing programs; attending meetings. In short, math is not all math!

**What do you like most about mathematics? **

I love the relaxation of reading math books and knowing that I am also learning. I like most that mathematics and its theory can be applied to simplify, analyze, and solve practical problems on earth, including operations of natural gas networks.

**What do you think is most misunderstood about math by the general public? **

The general public seems to believe that all mathematicians are exceptional at adding numbers and solving puzzles, and will become accountants.

### STEVEN RUIZ

#### GPSA Teaching Excellence Award

Supported by Graduate and Professional Students Association

Working toward PhD Mathematics Education

MEd Secondary Ed (Mathematics)

BS Electric Engineering

Northern Arizona University

Born in Morenci, raised in Peoria, AZ

**What is something you learned while at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective? **

Over the last two years at ASU, it has become abundantly clear that this generation is much more socially conscious and interested in justice than mine was. While there are so many serious problems that our world has to face, I am optimistic that solutions can be found.

**Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU? **

Nancy Childress taught me that the most important thing a math teacher can do is present math as the beautiful and complex interplay of ideas, and not just, as she put it, a “procedural tangle”.

**What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school? **

Know that college isn’t meant to be easy and that much of the time, it will require you to work harder than you have. Show yourself grace when you struggle, because struggle is inevitable at times. Learn how to take care of your physical and mental health and don’t feel bad about looking after yourself.

### TIN PHAN

#### Graduate Research Award

Supported by the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

2021 PhD in Applied Mathematics

BS Mathematics and Physics

Arizona State University

Born and raised in Quy Nhon, Vietnam

**What do you like most about mathematics? **

Mathematical biology! Combining mathematical theories and models with experimental and clinical data to help improve our understanding of the fundamentals of certain biological systems. It has many implications in the real world, such as improving public health and personalized medicines.

**What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school? **

Know what it is that you want (after graduation) and work toward it, but stay flexible

### DAVID POLLETTA

**Graduate Research Award**

#### Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Supported by the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

2021 PhD in Mathematics

BS Theoretical Mathematics

Minor in Statistics

The Ohio State University

Born in Columbus,OH

Raised in Cary, NC

**Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU? **

I remember being anxious before a meeting with my advisor, Dr. Julien Paupert, because I had not made any progress on my research during the week. When I told Julien, he said something along the lines of “that’s fine, these sort of weeks will happen.” He taught me that progress is very seldom linear, and it is okay to have weeks where you start and end in the same position.

**What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school?**

Read and research everything you can. Not just familiar subjects, but topics outside of your normal interests. I compare a person researching various subjects to a musician listening to a variety of artists. In either case, listening to a myriad of different voices is an excellent way to find your own.

### ZHIBING HE

**Dennis Young Graduate and Early Scholar Statistics Award**

Endowed by Dennis Young and friends

Working toward PhD in Statistics

Master’s degree

Renmin University of China, Beijing

Born and raised in Shanxi, China

**Why did you choose ASU for your graduate studies? **

Honestly, I chose ASU because my girlfriend was studying here. Luckily, she is my wife now.

**What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?**

When I was reading a book named ‘The lady tasting tea’, I was shocked and realized how interesting and useful that statistics is. What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school? Do not waste your time in school, try your best to fulfill your dream.

**If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?**

Give everyone an opportunity to study in a university.

### ALISON MIRIN

#### Floyd L. Downs Teaching of Mathematics Fellowship Award

Endowed by Floyd L. Downs and Elizabeth Lenci-Downs

#### Compassion and Empowerment Award

Supported by President's Professor Matthias Kawski

2021 PhD in Mathematics Education

MA Mathematics

BA Mathematics and Philosophy

Mills College, Oakland, CA

Born and raised in Castro Valley, CA

**What do you think is most misunderstood about math by the general public? **

A lot of people think that math is just a series of procedures and symbol manipulation exercises. This is a shame, since math is much more interesting than that. I think a lot of people who have great potential in math think of themselves as “bad at math” due to this misconception.

**What is something you learned while at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective?**

There are a lot of implicit mathematical norms and expectations that students are unaware of, and instructors are often aware that students are unaware of them. I think that, as mathematicians, we become so ingrained in the mathematical culture that we sometimes forget what it feels like to be brand new to the field. While this doesn’t exactly surprise me, I am gaining increasing appreciation for this disconnect. For example, one thing I have confirmed in my research is that mathematicians read equations of the form “a=b=c” as “a=b and b=c, so therefore a=c” where the “punchline” is “a=c”. I recently discovered that some students are unaware of this norm and instead use “a=b=c” to mean “a=b and therefore b=c” where the “punchline” is “b=c”.

### BINOD PANT

#### Floyd L. Downs Teaching of Mathematics Fellowship Award

Endowed by Floyd L. Downs and Elizabeth Lenci-Downs

Working toward PhD in Applied Mathematics

MA Applied Mathematics

BS Mathematics and Physics

University of Illinois at Chicago, IL

Born in Kurala, Baitadi, Nepal

Raised in Chatakpur, Kailali, Nepal

**What do you like most about mathematics? **

I love that we seek to answer pressing questions in diseases, such as covid and malaria. Plus, It is nice that we can do it all while not being anywhere near an actual laboratory.

**What do you think is most misunderstood about math by the general public? **

That you have to be a “math person” to be good at math. People do not just wake up one day and become good at math. It takes a lot of time and training to be good at math, just like it does it be good at soccer, acting, video games, or virtually anything. If someone is good at math, it most likely means they have had good training in math at some point in their life. Having said that, I think it is never too late to get started with learning mathematics. I think given enough time anyone can learn mathematics.

### ABBY ROCHA

#### Floyd L. Downs Teaching of Mathematics Fellowship Award

Endowed by Floyd L. Downs and Elizabeth Lenci-Downs

Working toward PhD in Mathematics Education

BS Mathematics

Western Illinois University

Born and raised in Altoona, IA

**What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? **

My aha moment occurred during my student teaching experience. There I quickly realized that students were not developing a conceptual understanding of the mathematics they were learning. I became interested in investigating mechanisms for advancing students’ understanding and quickly realized to do so, I would need to impact teachers’ understanding first.** **

**What do you like most about mathematics education? **

The challenge of helping others develop coherent mathematical understandings.

**What is something you learned while at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective? **

While at ASU I have learned to take water everywhere. This Arizona heat is no joke! Definitely changed my perspective on what summer weather is!

### BECHIR AMDOUNI

#### Robert G. Maule Excellence in Teaching Mathematics Award

Endowed by Elaine Maule

Working toward PhD in Applied Mathematics

Master’s degree Applied Mathematics

Northeastern Illinois University

Master’s degree Secondary Education

Lewis University, Romeoville, IL

Born and raised in Bousalem Tunisia, Africa

**What is something you learned while at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective? **

While taking numerical linear algebra with Dr. Malena Español, I was surprised to learn how fundamental this field is to so many disciplines. This changed my research method from mathematical modelling in biology (SIR, SEIR type) to inverse problems.

**What do you like most about mathematics? **

We live in a divided world on many levels. However, using applied mathematics has the power to take abstract concepts and apply them to real life problems in order to solve and advance science world wide.

**What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school? **

No pain, no gain ... doing research is not easy, so try to find a balance between school, work and personal life.

## Undergraduate Awards and Scholarships

### JACKSON CARPENTER

#### Charles Wexler Mathematics Prize

Endowed by Jonathan D. Wexler

Senior

BS Mathematics

Minor in Spanish

Born and raised in Phoenix, AZ

**What’s something you learned while at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective? **

My half-semester (thanks to the pandemic) of studying abroad in Mexico City was one of the most eye-opening experiences I had studying math. As all of my math classes were given in Spanish, I was able to truly test my skills in math but also my Spanish fluency. What I took away from this experience was understanding the universality of mathematics. Language and geographic boundaries had no effect on the mathematical aptitude of the friends I made while abroad. I gained a much wider perspective of math in an international context.

**What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school? **

Don't be afraid to reach out for help, whether that be to friends, professors, advisors, tutoring centers, etc. Asking for help is by no means an admission of weakness or stupidity. Sometimes a different person's perspective or understanding of a topic may sync better with how you learn.

### BENJAMIN JONES

#### Dean's Medal

Supported by The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Senior

BS Mathematics

Certificate in Cryptology

Born and raised in Phoenix, AZ

**What’s something you learned while at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective? **

Sometimes it seems like people think experts are born experts, but nobody is. It’s clear to me that my professors have worked very hard to become who they are. And even they occasionally must re-derive a result they forgot, so nobody should be intimidated by not understanding something.

**What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? **

There were two “aha” moments. The first one was when I was in 5th grade. I was enjoying learning how to program computers, and somehow everything I was learning was teaching me how to think like a mathematician as well. The second “aha” moment was when I was taking Mathematical Structures with Dr. Childress during my freshman year. The name of the class seemed vague enough that I had no expectations for what I would learn. Everything surprised me, and gave me a new perspective on what mathematics actually is. This class embodied the parts of mathematics that before I didn’t realize were the parts I liked!

### BRYAN IBARRA-BERNAL

#### Jack H. Hawes Memorial Mathematics Research Scholarship

Endowed by Sandra Baldwin

Sophomore

BS Mathematics

Born in Scottsdale, AZ

Raised in Phoenix, AZ

**What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study math? **

After trying other fields heavy in math like engineering and physics I realized I wanted to study math for the sake of more math. Any field that’s impacted by my studies is a happy coincidence. That’s when I made the switch.

**What is something you learned while at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective? **

Not every professor knows what’s best for you and is pushing you to succeed. You need to make the calls, yourself. Stay close to the ones who drive you forward and brush off the ones holding you back.

**What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school? **

Keep going – and remember, universities are valuable, but not more valuable than your own health.

### GISELLE MONTELLAN0 SAENZ

#### Ioana Elise Hociota!!! Memorial Mathematics Scholarship

Endowed by Andrew Holycross and friends

Senior

BS Mathematics

Born in Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico

Raised in Phoenix, AZ

**Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU? **

Professor Jack Spielberg taught me that although I have been so proficient in math in the past, there is still a lot to learn, and asking for help is not always easy but it can be necessary. He also taught me that there is nothing wrong with asking for help, and that the only person who will speak up for myself is me. It was a tough lesson, but it helped me get through many of my math courses.

**What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school? **

I would advise everyone to take advantage of the services on campus: tutoring, instructors, career advising, resume building, clubs, and more! They are all conveniently located on campus and there is even help online for most.

**What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?**

I love the basement of the Memorial Union building since everyone can enjoy themselves with games, take a quick lunch break, or even study.