Assistant Professor Yvonne Lai's research aims to improve instruction of mathematical reasoning at all levels by identifying and preparing teachers in the mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) necessary for such instruction. In her work on MKT, she builds on the work of Ball and colleagues (e.g., Ball, Thames, and Phelps (2008)). She brings a mathematics background to her work in mathematics education, specializing in hyperbolic geometry and geometric group theory prior to her interest in mathematical knowledge for teaching and practices of proof and reasoning. Her current projects investigate the cognition of teaching mathematical claim making and proving in secondary mathematics; the role of mathematical knowledge across different time scales (with Ruth Heaton and Mary Alice Carlson); differences between secondary MKT and elementary MKT and implications for professional development, teacher education, and measuring teachers' knowledge (with Heather Howell and Geoffrey Phelps); and the impact of content rich mathematics preparation on teaching practice (in collaboration with Jim Lewis, Lorraine Males, Wendy Smith, and Steve Swidler). She received her PhD in mathematics, with her dissertation specializing in geometric group theory and hyperbolic geometry.
Research Associate Professor Wendy Smith earned her PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2008, studying mathematics teacher change. Her research interests include K-16 mathematics education, rural education, teacher change, teacher professional development, teacher leadership, action research, and estimating teacher professional development effects on student achievement. She began her career as a middle level mathematics teacher in the Lincoln Public Schools. Her bachelor's and master's degrees are in mathematics, also from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Among other roles and responsibilities, she serves as the chief advisor for teachers earning their Master of Arts for Teachers (MAT) degree from the Department of Mathematics. In her role as Associate Director of the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education, Wendy supports STEM faculty in conducting educational research, evaluation and outreach.
Assistant Professor Nathan Wakefield focusses on Mathematics Education at the collegiate level. He is Director of First Year Mathematics Programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is especially interested in preparing future faculty. He has presented and published work on mentoring graduate students and early identification of students at risk of failing gateway courses. He works has experience working with both qualitative and quantitative research methods. In addition to his interest in mathematics education research, he also has an interest in developing technology to improve undergraduate education, some of the projects include a large mySQL databases and statistics suites to track all students enrolled in first-year mathematics courses and open educational resources for university students in precalculus and calculus courses. In addition to his interest in mathematics education, he has also published research in Arithmetic Dynamics, an amalgamation of Dynamical Systems and Number Theory.
Research Assistant Professor Michelle Homp earned her PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying applied mathematics. She currently develops and teaches mathematics courses for teachers at elementary, middle, and high school levels. Michelle also helps to coordinate the online MAT degree program and the Greater Nebraska Math Teachers Circle. She is the lead editor of the NebraskaMATH newsletters and coordinates summer graduate courses for teachers through the Nebraska Math and Science Summer Institutes.
Aaron Douglas Professor Jim Lewis is interested in mathematics education at the K-12 and collegiate levels with special interest in the mathematical education of teachers. Jim is particularly interested in involving mathematicians in the work of educating preservice and inservice mathematics teachers. He has been the lead PI for nearly $20 million of NSF grants, 2000-2015, including Math in the Middle NebraskaMATH, and NebraskaNOYCE, and is the Director of the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is also the lead PI for over $5 million in grants from private foundations. He was a co-PI for the Nebraska Math and Science Initiative, and for Math Matters, an NSF grant to revise the mathematics education of future elementary school teachers at UNL. Nationally, he is a member of the National Research Council's MSEB (Mathematical Sciences Education Board) and chair of the MAA's Coordinating Council on Education. Lewis was chair of the Steering Committee that produced the CBMS report, The Mathematical Education of Teachers (2001) as well as the 2012 update, The Mathematical Education Of Teachers 2, co-chair of the NRC Committee that produced Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for the New Millennium, and a member of the AMS Task Force that produced Towards Excellence: Leading a Doctoral Mathematics Department in the 21st Century. Jim was the recipient of three major awards in 2015: the Gung & Hu Award for lifetime service from the Mathematical Association of America; the Impact Award from the American Mathematical Society; and the Rotary Club #14 Don Miller Math Education Award. Jim is currently serving as the Deputy Assistant Director for the National Science Foundation's Education and Human Resources Directorate.
Emeritus Professor Steve Dunbar is interested in issues of mathematical education at the high school and collegiate level. He is the Director of the American Mathematics Competitions program of the Mathematical Association of America which sponsors middle school and high school mathematical competitions leading to the selection and training of the USA delegation to the annual International Mathematical Olympiad. In addition, he has interests in documenting trends in collegiate mathematics course enrollments and using mathematical software to teach and learn mathematics. He also has research interests in nonlinear differential equations, and applied dynamical systems, particularly those which arise in mathematical biology. In conjunction with his work with differential equation models and systems of mathematical biology, he is also interested in stochastic processes, the numerical and computer-aided solution of differential equations, and mathematical modeling.
Current Graduate Students
Advised by: Yvonne Lai
Advised by: Nathan Wakefield
Karina Uhing (PhD 2020)
Advised by: Nathan Wakefield and Yvonne Lai
Erica Miller (PhD 2018)
Advised by: Yvonne Lai
Undergraduate Honors Thesis in Mathematics Education
Elizabeth Tyler (B.S. 2019)
Advised by: Nathan Wakefield and Ted Hamann
Chris Beeman (B.S. 2017)
Advised by: Nathan Wakefield and Wendy Smith