Dixie State University professor receives Mathematical Association of America award

Composite image | Photo of Vinodh Chellamuthu courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

ST. GEORGE ­­— The Mathematical Association of America recently awarded Dixie State University assistant mathematics professor of mathematics Vinodh Chellamuthu with its 2019 Intermountain Section Award for Distinguished University Teaching of Mathematics.

According to a recent news release announcing the award, the association’s Intermountain Section annually recognizes one faculty member from a Utah or Southern Idaho institution who is revered as an extraordinarily successful educator. Because of his dedicated efforts to help students, Dixie State and those beyond the university, Chellamuthu was chosen as this year’s award winner.

When it comes to teaching, Chellamuthu embraces diverse approaches to introduce his students to math-related concepts. Rather than have students listen to lectures and solve textbook problems, Chellamuthu encourages students to collaborate in groups, work on the board in front of the class and interact in hands-on experiments that connect math concepts with real-life scenarios.

“I want to make sure our students are loving math instead of looking at it as just a checklist for the degree program,” Chellamuthu stated in the news release.  “I want them to see the value of math in everyday life and in their own life.”

In addition to his work in the classroom, Chellamuthu empowers students to participate in math modeling competitions and undergraduate research presentations, such as the Joint Mathematics Meeting’s undergraduate research poster session. There, students from around the country present their research results in a conference of 400 students who are mostly from top-tier universities.

“When I initially told my students about this opportunity, they weren’t sure they should participate, but I just pushed them a little bit and said, ‘You should do this!’” Chellamuthu said. “They went for Honorable Mention last year, ranking in the top 25 percent. This year, they were Meritorious Winners, which means they scored in the top 10 percent in an international math modeling competition.”

Additionally, Chellamuthu helped design the Applied and Computational Mathematics bachelor’s degree program at Dixie State. The program is set to begin this fall and allows students to choose from three emphases: scientific computing, actuarial science and data analytics.

Beyond his involvement at the university, Chellamuthu recently was one of six educators in the nation to be named a research fellow for the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges’ Project Scholarly Leaders Originating as Practicing Educators. As a fellow, Chellamuthu will help promote innovative teaching and learning practices in the first two years of college mathematics.

“I take this job very seriously, and I want to see a change in our society,” Chellamuthu said. “I always believe in one quote by Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’ So, I take this award as a pat on the shoulder, and I will keep working hard to see the change.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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