Parsley recognized for bringing mathematics ‘out-of-the-box’

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Jason Parsley has received an award for distinguished teaching by a faculty member in the early stage of his or her teaching career.

Parsley, who joined the faculty in 2006, received the Southeastern Section Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College or University Mathematics Faculty Member from the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). The southeastern section of the MAA represents five states and more than 210 colleges and universities within those states.

“Jason’s teaching style is interactive, experiential, innovative, hands-on and challenging,” said Professor and Chair of Mathematics Stephen Robinson. “Jason demands a lot of work from his students, but he gets them to buy into it because his assignments ask them to step outside of their usual mathematical experience to do activities that are both creative and substantive. They also know that whatever out-of-the-box assignment he gives, he will be with them every step of the way to support their efforts.”

In his first-year seminar on the Mathematics of Voting in 2008, Parsley had his students conduct exit polls at Forsyth County voting sites during the November election, and they successfully predicted the results of four races. He and three students are writing a paper on their findings, and he and one of the students, Annalaissa Johnson, gave a lecture on the findings at the recent MAA meeting. Parlsey’s students also conducted polls on campus to show how different methods of voting can produce different results.

In his Explorations in Mathematics course, his students teamed with students in a dance class taught by Assistant Professor of Dance Christina Soriano to bring a geometry project to life. Both groups of students studied symmetrical 3D shapes and then formed the shapes and put them in motion in a dance studio.

Parsley, a native of High Point, N.C., earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and materials science from Duke University and his master’s degree and doctorate in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include differential geometry, geometric analysis and physical knot theory.

The award is the second from the MAA to a Wake Forest faculty member in the last two years. Last year, Associate Professor of Mathematics Hugh Howards won the MAA’s Distinguished Teaching Award for the southeastern section.

Categories: Faculty