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Pengelley first New Mexican to receive distinguished mathematics educator award

It's obvious upon meeting David Pengelley - he has a passion for mathematics. It's a passion driven by leadership in the mathematics department where he teaches at New Mexico State University. And for it, he is recognized as the first New Mexican to achieve a national mathematical teaching award.

New Mexico State University professor of mathematics, David Pengelley, at far right, interacts with students during a group research project. Pengelley will receive the Mathematical Association of America's Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. (NMSU Photo by Robert Yee)

Pengelley, professor of mathematics at the College of Arts and Sciences, will be honored with the award in January. He is the recipient of the Mathematical Association of America's Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. Pengelley will be recognized for placing the NMSU Mathematical Sciences Department at the forefront of teaching innovation nationally and internationally through projects such as a national calculus teaching reform movement and the enhancement of student learning via primary sources (first-hand documents or publications of original discovery) in mathematics. In many instances, his research and teaching methods focus on student projects and student research as well as work done alongside his colleagues.

"I've had very supportive colleagues and department leadership over many years (at NMSU)," Pengelley said. "These new teaching approaches are coming of age and being recognized by a broader professional community."

The award will officially be presented at the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings in Washington, D.C., Jan. 5 through 8. These annual meetings are held with the mission to advance mathematical achievement, encourage research and provide national and international networking opportunities for advancement in the field, according to the 2009 Joint Mathematics Meeting website. The four-day session is hosted by the two largest mathematical societies in the country: the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America.

"I feel proud for both David and the department about this award. David has a history of innovative teaching projects, has won other teaching awards in the past and received numerous NSF (National Science Foundation) grants for teaching projects," said Patrick Morandi, academic department head of mathematical sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. Pengelley and others in the department are constantly striving for excellence in mathematics, he said.

"Currently over half the faculty are involved in grant funded teaching oriented projects. I view Dr. Pengelley receiving this teaching award in a broader context as a nice recognition of the department's well-respected work in its educational projects," Morandi said.

Most recently, Pengelley was awarded a Faculty Outstanding Achievement Award in 2007 from the NMSU College of Arts and Sciences, and in 1993 and 2008, he won the Mathematical Association of America Southwest Section Teaching Award. He was also selected to present an opening keynote address in Mexico City over the summer at the History and Pedagogy of Mathematics international conference that hosted participants from all continents and 28 countries.

"I owe gratitude to so many people for the encouragement, inspiration, ideas and opportunities that have made my adventures possible," Pengelley said. He earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz and his Ph.D. from the University of Washington, including a year at Oxford University. After an M.I.T. Moore Instructorship he began research and teaching at NMSU.

He has performed longtime research in algebraic topology and has a continued focus on developing pedagogies of teaching with student projects and with primary sources. Pengelley also immersed himself in two decades of studies in Sophie Germain's 19th century manuscripts on Fermat's Last Theorem. For more information on Pengelley, visit his website at http://www.math.nmsu.edu/~davidp/.