Emily Hoopes-Boyd Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics at Lake Erie College, was recently named a 2023 Project NeXT Fellow of the Mathematics Association of America (MAA).
This highly competitive, one-year fellowship is a professional development program for new or recent Ph.D.s in the mathematical sciences. This award for gifted teachers early in their careers offers a foundation of proven methods to improve their teaching, mentoring and research skills.
“It is important, especially in the first few years of being a professor, to continuously reflect on teaching and what is working in the classroom and what could be better,” Hoopes-Boyd says. “Being a Project NExT fellow will strengthen me as a teacher. Learning different approaches to the teaching of both introductory and upper division math courses, as well as learning more inclusive techniques, will better enable all students in my classroom to reach their full potential.”
Fellowship topics introduce four main directions of an academic career to the young professional: improving the teaching and learning of mathematics, engaging in research and scholarship, finding interesting and worthwhile service opportunities, and participating in professional activities for personal enrichment. Fellows also have unique access to a supportive network of award-winning teachers and seasoned mathematicians.
From childhood, Hoopes-Boyd says she always knew that she would become a teacher. The question was, simply, what subject? A love of music kept her playing the saxophone from 4th grade through college years. But the pull of mathematics was stronger than anything else. She readily admits her love of math. “You maneuver the pieces to fit together. The ‘click’ when they do is so perfect – and beautiful!”
Abstract subjects like math offer classroom challenges at all ages, which can be harder to solve than the problem on the board. Hoopes-Boyd is determined to help each student understand how math skills fit in to their field(s) of interest. She is committed to supporting and motivating her students to develop perseverance and self-confidence, to be critical thinkers, and to embrace the work of studying with the discipline used in anything you wish to be good at. It’s hard work, but the payoff comes when a student grasps the “Oh, that’s why those steps are important,” leading to the subsequent “Ah ha!” moment of recognition. Those moments reinforce why teachers teach.
Dr. John Tedesco, Dean of the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, commented, “In just her first year, Dr. Hoopes-Boyd has already had an impact on our students. The common theme of her positive attitude and helpfulness carries through all discussions with students. Even our STEM Scholars sing high praises of her and I routinely hear about how much they love her classes. I am excited for Dr. Hoopes-Boyd to have this opportunity. I know that it will strengthen her classroom skills and approaches as well as help her to continue to have such a positive influence on our students and campus culture.”
Emily Hoopes-Boyd earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Kent State University in 2021. Prior to this, she earned her M.S. in Mathematics and B.S. in Education from Youngstown State University. Her research interests include noncommutative ring theory with a focus on matrix algebras, as well as mathematics education. She is a member of the Association for Women in Mathematics, the American Mathematical Society, and the Mathematical Association of America.
In advising students, Hoopes-Boyd encourages them to find a subject or area they love that they are willing to spend years working on. For math students, she emphasizes not to feel pressured to attend graduate school as there are many non-degree options using mathematics to solve problems. For those considering graduate school, she advises to pursue research opportunities, such as a project with an advisor or a math competition. She describes each person’s journey as unique, with Ph.D. programs being more of a marathon than a race.