At the Mathematical Association of America’s MathFest meeting Aug. 3, Harvey Mudd College mathematics professor Francis Su was awarded the The Paul R. Halmos-Lester R. Ford Award, given to the best papers published in the MAA’s flagship journal, The American Mathematical Monthly.
The paper recognized was the published version of a speech Su gave at the end of his MAA presidency titled “Mathematics for Human Flourishing.”
The much-lauded talk explores how the deeply human themes that drive people to do mathematics can be channeled to build a more beautiful and just world in which all can flourish.
“We are proud of the Mathematical Association of America’s long history of publishing superb mathematical exposition,” said Michael Pearson, executive director of the MAA. “These prize-winning authors serve to inform and inspire our community. We all benefit from clear and effective writing that brings important results to the broadest possible audience.”
Su’s paper was also selected for inclusion in The Best Writing on Mathematics 2018, to be published by Princeton University Press. This is the third time Su’s writing has been selected for the Princeton anthology; his article “Teaching Research: Encouraging Discoveries” was featured in The Best Writing on Mathematics 2011 and his speech “The Lesson of Grace in Teaching” was featured in The Best Writing on Mathematics 2014. He’s also developing a longer version of “Mathematics for Human Flourishing” as a full-length book, to be published by Yale University Press in 2019.
Su, the Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics, joined the HMC faculty in 1996. His research interests include geometric and topological combinatorics, and he has a passion for popularizing mathematics. He is also the creator of the popular Math Fun Facts website and, more recently, the MathFeed app, a math news aggregator.
Su has been involved with the MAA for many years, serving as one of its youngest presidents from 2015–2017. The MAA previously recognized Su with the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished Teaching of Mathematics, the MAA’s highest teaching honor (2013), the Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College or University Mathematics Faculty Member (2004), and the Merten M. Hasse Prize for outstanding mathematical exposition (2001).