Keough wins MAA Alder Award

Lauren Keough portrait
Dr. Lauren Keough

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) named Lauren Keough, an assistant professor of mathematics at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, as one of three recipients of the Henry L. Alder Award. Keough earned her Ph.D. in 2015 in mathematics from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching honors beginning college or university faculty whose teaching has been extraordinarily successful and whose effectiveness in teaching undergraduate mathematics is shown to have influence beyond their own classrooms.

“I am honored to be among the incredible teachers and mentors who have won the Alder Award. I am thankful to the MAA for creating environments through MAA MathFest and Project NExT for us to learn from one another,” Keough said. “My teaching is a product of the million little things and several big things I have learned from everyone I’ve ever met. Thank you to all of the people who took a chance on me mathematically, including my teachers at Hofstra University and at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.”

During the five years since her arrival at Grand Valley State University, Keough has taught 11 different courses at all levels in the curriculum and mentored 42 undergraduate students with research. Keough uses standards-based grading and ungrading principles (also centered in research) in order to focus her students on persistence, growth, development, curiosity, and understanding. By holding office hours in a public space where many of the mathematics majors work and collaborate, Keough makes herself accessible not only to her own students but to those in other courses.

Keough started a math circle with an MAA Tensor grant with co-PI’s Feryal Alayont and Meghan VanderMale, and mentored many undergraduates in research experiences. In 2018, she received a Center for Undergraduate Research Mathematics grant with co-PI Dr. Austin Mohr and was awarded an NSA REU grant for Summer 2022 with co-PI Dr. Michael Santana.

Her favorite activities as a child in Rhode Island were those that allowed room for creativity. In fact, she thought she was cheating when she used her creativity to find patterns to do timed multiplication tests. Her love for math developed as an undergraduate at Hofstra University where she learned she could be creative in her math courses. Keough completed her Ph.D. under the supervision of Professor Jamie Radcliffe. Her research is in graph theory, and she especially loves areas where she can involve undergraduates. After graduate school, Keough spent a year at Davidson College as a visiting assistant professor before moving to GVSU in 2016.

“To me, this award comes with a lot of responsibility. I must continue to be a reflective teacher, continue to share with and learn from the community, and do my best to fight for equitable math classrooms so that every person gets to experience the joy of doing mathematics,” Keough said.

The other Alder award winners in 2022 were Vinodh Kumar Chellamuthu and Brittany Stephenson.

– Ginny Greenberg of Hofstra contributed to this report from the MAA