WISER (Women in Science, Engineering and Research) is a group comprised of volunteers dedicated to connecting professionals in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. Though WISER is primarily geared towards women, men are also welcome at WISER activities. Past activities have included speed networking, panel discussions, barbecues, coffee nights and their annual golf tournament. The organization is affiliated with the University of Alberta and many of its events are on or around the university campus. There is also a WISER group on LinkedIn which I encourage you to join.
WISER is having a potluck meeting on Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm in the Heritage Lounge at Athabasca Hall which is located on the University of Alberta campus. The meeting is for those interested in joining the WISER executive team. The primary duties of the WISER executives are planning and organizing WISER events to be held throughout the coming year. For further information or to RSVP (don’t forget to bring a dish) please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last month SIAM, a highly reputable organization for math professionals, published an article entitled “On the Art of Procuring Reference Letters.” The article is written by a math professor at Columbia University with 25 years of experience reading and writing reference letters. The author’s insights are a rare and unique resource for obtaining the best possible reference letters.
Elaine Beltaos is a new faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Grant MacEwan University. In 2009 she completed her PhD in algebra at the University of Alberta and now considers herself a professional mathematician.
The transition from graduate student to faculty member has been both difficult and easy for Elaine. In her current position, there are greater responsibilities and a more structured schedule, but at the same time, there is also more collaboration on research and a stronger emphasis on teaching. A typical day for Elaine at Grant MacEwan consists of teaching, seeing students, preparing lectures, coordinating courses, attending meetings and during the summer months research is the main focus which involves “reading and trying to solve math problems”. Her experiences and struggles with research throughout graduate school provided her with the skills to “learn, think and attack problems” and also help her to relate to her students’ difficulties with math.
It was also during her graduate studies that Elaine cultivated her exemplary teaching record and became a popular teaching assistant and sessional lecturer. She has been asked to speak on teaching panels and was honoured in 2003 and 2008 with the highly competitive Graduate Student Teaching Award. In her opinion, the three most important qualities of a good instructor are: be your (professional) self, be adaptable especially in the classroom and with your students, and show your passion for math.
Elaine’s words of wisdom to current and future graduate students are: “don’t give up!” because there will often be times when you want to.
Thank you to Elaine for taking the time to do this interview.