Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


Michelle Montgomery & Katie Fowler – Inspired by Math #30

Math contests can be a lot of fun. SIAM, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, puts on a contest every year for teams of high school juniors and seniors to propose a solution to a pressing real world problem. The contest promotes lots of hard work, collaboration, and smart thinking. And, the winners get a bunch of scholarship money along with a hefty dose of glory. My two podcast guests have key roles in running the contest. It's a great thing that Michelle Montgomery and Katie Fowler are doing to prepare future generations to take on the world's challenges.


About Michelle Montgomery

BIOpicMichelle Montgomery wrote the initial proposal and is project director for Moody’s Mega Math (M 3) Challenge. This is an extension of her work as director of marketing for the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). Her responsibilities focus on fulfilling the mission of SIAM, which includes inspiring young people to study and pursue careers in applied mathematics and computational science.

Since joining the staff in 1988, Michelle has been involved in promoting SIAM publications, conferences, and membership -- all of which are focused on high level applications of math. The M3 Challenge is SIAM’s biggest outreach to students in high school. Other outreach efforts include series of interesting vignettes that explain the math behind everyday life, interesting research being done, and generally highlight the value of computational sciences to our world. These efforts go under the names “Math Matters” and “Nuggets” on the SIAM Public Awareness pages.

Moving forward, Michelle hopes to participate in changing the way students, teachers, and the public look at math education through integration of more math modeling activities in STEM/STEAM curriculum, and more public awareness efforts to demonstrate the importance of work being done by computational professionals.

Michelle lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her two teenage children, with whom she spends much of her free time. She is passionate about literacy and education, and serves on the board of trustees for her local public library.

About Katie Fowler

fowlerKatie Fowler joined the Department of Mathematics at Clarkson University in the fall of 2003 having graduated from North Carolina State University with a PhD in Computational Applied Mathematics. Her efforts as a mathematician are split between the scientific community and service to the campus and local communities, including educational outreach grants bringing over $3M to northern New York. She co-directs an integrated math-physics roller coaster engineering camp for 50+ local 7-12 grade students every summer.

Katie received the Clarkson University Outstanding New Teacher award in 2005, and in 2010 the Mathematical Association of America honored her with the Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College or University Mathematics Faculty Member. The most rewarding part of being a professor to her is mentoring students, including supervising undergraduate projects. She has co-authored eight peer-reviewed papers with undergraduate research students in the last ten years.

Her research focus is applied optimization with an emphasis on developing hybrid derivative-free techniques for simulation-based engineering problems. Although her work has spanned multiple disciplines including psychology, polymer processing, and biology, she is most passionate about environmental applications. She has developed algorithims to tackle remediation of contaminated groundwater and is currently working on sustainable water practices for the agricultural management.

In her spare time, Katie enjoys running, cooking, travelling (to eat new things), and trying to convince her two girls to broaden their culinary experiences.

About SIAM

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) is an international community of over 13,000 individual members. Almost 500 academic, manufacturing, research and development, service and consulting organizations, government, and military organizations worldwide are institutional members.

SIAM fosters the development of applied mathematical and computational methodologies needed in these various application areas. Applied mathematics in partnership with computational science is essential in solving many real-world problems. Through publications, research, and community, the mission of SIAM is to build cooperation between mathematics and the worlds of science and technology. More ...

About Moody’s Mega Math Challenge

The M3 Challenge spotlights applied mathematics as a powerful problem-solving tool, as a viable and exciting profession, and as a vital contributor to advances in an increasingly technical society. Scholarship prizes total $115,000. The Challenge is entirely Internet-based and there are no registration or participation fees. Each high school may enter up to two teams of three to five junior and/or senior students. More ...

Filed under: podcast Leave a comment