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.