AMS Office of Government Relations’ Activities at the Joint Mathematics Meetings

By Karen Saxe

Each year at the JMM, my office organizes four events, one before the meeting starts, one on Thursday, and two on Friday.


We host an annual workshop for department chairs, held in the same location as and just prior to the JMM. This one-day workshop for mathematical sciences department chairs and leaders is organized in a workshop format to facilitate the sharing of ideas and experiences between peers and to create an environment in which attendees can address departmental challenges from new perspectives. The January 15 workshop features four interactive sessions, encouraging networking and sharing of ideas amongst participants:

  1. Reassessing the relationship between pure and applied mathematics (Doug Mupasiri, University of Northern Iowa & Jennifer Zhao, University of Michigan-Dearborn)
  2. Math in the data movement (Doug Mupasiri & Gloria Marí-Beffa, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  3. Professional development and evaluating faculty (Malcolm Adams, University of Georgia & Jennifer Zhao)
  4. The next step: moving to higher administration (Gloria Marí-Beffa)

If you miss 2019, we invite you to attend the 2020 workshop in Denver!


The Office of Government Relations works with two of the AMS policy committees—the Committee on Education and the Committee on Science Policy. Each of these holds a session at the JMM each year.

This year the Committee on Education will host a Guided Discussion on “Evidence-based teaching: how do we all get there?” (Thursday 1:00-2:30 pm in Room 315, Baltimore Convention Center [BCC]). David Pengelly (Oregon State University), Dev Sinha (University of Oregon), and Ravi Vakil (Stanford University) designed and will lead the discussion. Compelling reasons and resources are now in place to support shifting our pedagogy toward evidence-based active learning methods that substantially improve student success.  These include the recent CBMS Statement on Active Learning, MAA Instructional Practices Guide, and MIT Electronic Mathematics Education Seminar.  However, implementation is not quick and easy. There are still plenty of obstacles, individual and institutional, along with opportunities. This event will foster small group discussion, and solicit ideas. Issues include graduate student and early career training; developing departmental experts who can lead and mentor large enrollment courses; an inventory tool of teaching practices for observations and training; program evaluation and deeper, more authentic learning outcomes; programming for department chairs; redesigning the publishing of teaching materials, possibly through new economic models. Audience members should leave better prepared to implement active learning pedagogy themselves and advocate for it in their departments, connect with faculty elsewhere in doing so, and influence national efforts.

The Committee on Science Policy session (Friday 2:30-4:00 pm in Room 316, BCC) will be a staged conversation with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) new heads of the Directorates for Mathematical & Physical Sciences (MPS) and Education & Human Resources (EHR).  Dr. Anne Kinney is a PhD astrophysicist and came to NSF/MPS in January 2018. MPS supports fundamental research in astronomy, chemistry, physics, materials science and mathematics.  Dr. Karen Marrongelle holds a PhD in mathematics education and joined NSF/EHR in October 2018. EHR supports STEM education at all levels. I will facilitate the conversation about Dr. Kinney’s vision for the Division of Mathematical Sciences, Dr. Marrongelle’s vision for mathematics work in EHR, and their joint views on how the mathematical sciences fit with larger programs at the NSF. There will be time for audience Q&A.


Lastly, we host the Congressional Fellowship Session (Friday afternoon, 4:30-6:00 pm in Room 316, BCC). This one-year fellowship provides a public policy learning experience, demonstrates the value of science-government interaction and brings a technical background and external perspective to the decision-making process in Congress.  Learn more about this program and speak with current and former AMS Fellows. Panelists this year are the current AMS Congressional Fellow James Ricci (Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office) and Jennifer Pearl (PhD mathematician and Director of the Science & Technology Policy Fellowships Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science). Application deadline for 2019-20 AMS Congressional Fellowship is February 15, 2019.


Where else will we be?

On Saturday 11:00-11:50 am, JPBM Communications Award winner Margot Lee Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures, will receive her award and be interviewed by Talithia Williams of Harvey Mudd College. I am pleased that U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen will join us and give remarks at the beginning of the event. Senator Van Hollen represents Maryland and is a co-sponsor of a bill to award Congressional Gold Medals to “Hidden Figures” Christine Darden, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the U.S. Following the interview, starting at noon, Shetterly will be available for a meet-and-greet and autograph signing.


Looking forward to seeing you all in Baltimore!

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