Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


Gili Rusak & Mary O’Keeffe – Inspired by Math #27

[ Update 4/10/13: An addendum with links to an annotated transcript and to a follow-up article are here. ]

I first learned of Gili's great mathematical community-building work through this wonderful blog article that Mary O'Keeffe wrote. Gili, a high school sophomore, and Mary, professor and founder of the Albany Area Math Circle, have both contributed greatly to making math fun and collaborative. It was a great honor to interview the two. We did the interview on a Friday afternoon right before the two were headed to their weekly Circle.

I'm delighted to have the two in this series as my intention is to share better stories of what math is and can be than what many of us learned in school and these two have a great story.

I should note that Gili holds the distinction, for now, of being the youngest person that I have interviewed for the podcast series.

About Gili and Mary

Gili Rusak is a sophomore in high school who also takes courses in mathematics and computer science at a local college. She has been an active member of the Albany Area Math Circle for five years. She enjoys working with middle school students to enrich their knowledge and love for mathematics. She also volunteers for MathCounts tutoring at a local inner city middle school and is a member of the local Youth Court. In her free time she enjoys mountain biking, running, and other athletics.

Mary O'Keeffe, a public policy economist who studied economics at Harvard (in the same PhD program with Larry Summers!), founded the Albany Area Math Circle in 2001, along with her daughter, Alison Miller, who was then a high school sophomore seeking to build a local community of kindred spirits who shared a passion for collaborating on challenging mathematical problems. Alison went on to many adventures, including the International Math Olympiad, where she became the first American woman to win a gold medal in 2004, and is now a graduate student at Princeton, but the vibrant mathematical community they launched in upstate NY continues to flourish beyond anything they could have envisioned at the outset.

[ Update 4/10/13: An addendum with links to an annotated transcript and to a follow-up article are here. ]

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