On Math, Career, and Life

Q&A with Deanna Haunsperger, MAA President

Mathematics professor Deanna Haunsperger of Carleton College in Northfield, MN is the new president of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). As president of the MAA, Haunsperger leads the world’s largest community of mathematicians, students, and enthusiasts. We are thrilled to have Haunsperger answer our questions about her career as a mathematician and educator, and what she hopes to accomplish for the mathematics community.

What are you the most excited to do as MAA President?
I'm most excited to get to know more of our members through our meetings and to give back to the association that has meant so much to me both personally and professionally throughout my career in mathematics.

What do you see as one of the biggest challenges you will be working to solve while you serve as MAA President?
I would like to get the word out to early career mathematicians, especially graduate students, that the MAA is a welcoming community filled with opportunities to learn more mathematics, to learn about the teaching of mathematics, and to share ideas in a supportive environment.

What brought you to the MAA?
When I was in graduate school and knew I wanted to teach, some of the best advice I received was to become a member of the MAA. Early on, my activity in the association was merely attending meetings and reading journals and books, but as my interest in the profession grew, so did my interest in all the MAA has to offer. When you embark on a new pathway in your life, finding your community -- the group who will join you on your journey -- is essential.  I'd like graduate students to know that we're their support team.

Who are your mathematical heroes?
Every year, some 1,400 people graduate with a Ph.D. in mathematics. They're not all geniuses bound for the Fields Medal; many have had to overcome adversity -- as a member of an underrepresented group, or when naysayers questioned their ability to finish a PhD, or as family and life happened in an unexpected way, as it sometimes will. Those are my heroes. I look up to all the people who strove to overcome their own personal or societal challenges to earn a PhD in mathematics and then contributed to this enterprise.