The Mathematical Association of America has chosen Talithia Williams, associate professor of mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, to receive its 2015 Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning Faculty Member. The award honors faculty members whose teaching is effective and extraordinary and extends its influence beyond the classroom. Recipients receive $1,000 and a certificate of recognition.
“I’m thrilled that the MAA has recognized Talithia with this honor,” said Professor of Mathematics Arthur Benjamin, who nominated Williams for the award. “Her boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm have inspired the latest generation of Mudders. Talithia is an outstanding teacher and has done a great job promoting the power of statistics and data science to students at HMC and beyond.”
Williams has spoken throughout the country about the value of statistics in quantifying personal health information. Her recent TED talk, “Own Your Body’s Data,” has garnered nearly one million views.
Williams has also had substantial impact locally and nationally encouraging students from traditionally underrepresented groups to pursue education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Locally, she runs an annual conference (Sacred SISTAHS) that teaches hundreds of young girls from minority communities about the benefits of studying STEM and how to successfully navigate that path. At the national level, she serves as treasurer for SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science), is founding co-director of EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education) and serves the MAA as governor-at-large for minority interests.
The MAA established the Alder award in 2003 and presented its first awards the following year. Williams is the fifth Harvey Mudd College faculty member to receive the award, and Harvey Mudd is the only college with multiple recipients: Rachel Levy in 2013; Susan Martonosi in 2012; Lesley Ward in 2006; and Francis Su in 2004. The award will be presented to Williams at the MAA MathFest and centennial celebration, to be held August 5–8 in Washington, D.C.