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Donna Beers is Professor of Mathematics at Simmons College where she has been teaching since 1986. During that time she has served as chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department as well as director of the Honors program. She has served on a range of college committees, including the Committee on Tenure and Appointments, Faculty Council, the Curriculum Committee, and the College of Arts and Sciences Fiscal and Budgetary Affairs Committee.
An algebraist, her research publications are in the areas of group theory and group algebras of infinite abelian groups. Her scholarly interests include inquiry into student learning to strengthen teaching; a recent publication describes her collaboration in developing and implementing a learning community for pre-service elementary school teachers. Her teaching spans a wide range of students, from first-year pre-meds who are taking calculus, to sophomores in discrete mathematics who plan to major in computer science, to juniors who are elementary school teacher candidates, to seniors who are majoring in mathematics. Promoting undergraduate research is a vital aspect of her teaching. Examples of topics pursued by some of her recent students include: cryptography, the sphere packing problem, the population dynamics of Atlantic salmon, and the correlation between patient religiosity and health care utilization. To recognize the accomplishments of Simmons students in mathematics, she initiated and serves as adviser to the Massachusetts Theta Chapter of the national mathematics honor society, Pi Mu Epsilon. In October, 2012, she was honored as the first recipient of the Toby Sloane Award for Student-Centeredness in Teaching. This annual award provides prizes up to $10,000 and was created by Carl S. Sloane in honor of his wife, Simmons Trustee Toby M. Sloane '60, "to recognize and promote excellence in student-centeredness in teaching."
Since graduate school, she has been an active member of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), the largest professional society to focus on undergraduate mathematics education. She has served as chair and governor of the Northeastern Section of the MAA, and also served on the editorial boards of MAA journals, including The American Mathematical Monthly and Mathematics Magazine. She launched the Simmons College Student Chapter of the MAA; her advisees regularly present their research at undergraduate mathematics conferences. In fall, 2006, she spent a sabbatical leave as Visiting Mathematician at the MAA headquarters in Washington, D.C. She received the Certificate for Meritorious Service in 2007 for her contributions to the MAA and her commitment to the advancement of mathematics. Her professional service includes extensive service as outside consultant for departmental program reviews in the mathematical sciences. She is co-author of the new MAA Guidelines for Undertaking a Self-Study.
University of Connecticut