MEDIA RELEASE — Feb 12, 2013

Canadian Mathematical Society

Feb 12, 2013


Jan Minac to receive 2013 CMS Excellence in Teaching Award

Prof. Jan Minac

OTTAWA, Ontario — The Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) is pleased to announce that Professor Jan Minac of Western University is the recipient of the CMS 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award.

This CMS award recognizes sustained and distinguished contributions in mathematics teaching at the undergraduate level at a Canadian post-secondary education institution. Nelson Education is a proud sponsor of the award.

“Jan is a gifted mathematician who with unabashed enthusiasm shares his knowledge and his love of the subject with his students,” said Keith Taylor, CMS President. “Having Jan as a teacher is an experience no student forgets. They have the experience of working with him, and from time to time a research paper even emerges from this.”

Prof. Minac makes his courses interesting by adding stories to the ideas and even dramatizing the action, occasionally borrowing creatively from the works of such as Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes. In Jan’s classes, you learn more than mathematics, or more to the point, you learn mathematics as it is embedded in life.

“What particularly impressed the selection committee about Jan Minac is that he offers his students the very best that mathematics has to offer, math at its most beautiful and most powerful,” said Peter Taylor, Chair of the CMS Education Committee. “And, I have to say, we were a bit envious of the extraordinary amount of fun he has doing it!”.

Along with his wide knowledge of the main results in a number of mathematical areas, Prof. Minac is deeply interested in their historical origins. Together with his students, Jan traces the development of key mathematical ideas from the first dreams and struggles, with occasional bouts of despair, to the elation of success. Jan Minac shares personal stories of great mathematicians with his students, so that the students become so involved that they cannot wait for the next installment in the tangles of mathematical ideas and lives of the mathematicians who developed them.

How to explain the material simply, naturally, and with crystal clarity? From pondering this question, one may trace the origin of a number of Jan Minac’s well-known survey articles with various other enthusiastic colleagues. Jan also led a workshop on innovative teaching methods using theatrical performances, and he has lectured about his teaching methods to other teachers and educators as well as at international mathematical summer schools.

After a dramatic escape from the former communist Czechoslovakia, Jan Minac earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Queen’s University in 1986. After postdoctoral work as a member of MSRI and the University of California at Berkeley, Jan came to Western University in 1989 where he became a professor in 2003. Jan’s research interests center around Galois theory, number theory, and a number of related topics. He has published a good portion of his work in top mathematical journals, and his work is studied in seminars internationally. Jan co-organized three BIRS workshops. In 2004 Jan received a Distinguished Research Professorship at Western and in 1997 and again in 2010, Jan received a University Students’ Council and Alumni Western Teaching Award of Excellence. Jan has also received four Teaching Honour Roll Awards of Excellence, and he currently serves on four mathematical editorial boards. He is also a member of the AMS Committee on Human Rights of Mathematicians.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Peter Taylor, Chair
CMS Education Committee
Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics
Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario
(613) 533-2390
or Jessica St-James
Communications and Special Projects Officer
Canadian Mathematical Society
(613) 733-2662 ext. 728

About the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS)

The CMS is the national mathematics organization whose goal is to promote the advancement, discovery, learning, and application of mathematics. The Society's activities cover the whole spectrum of mathematics including: scientific meetings, research publications, and the promotion of excellence in mathematics education at all levels. The CMS annually sponsors mathematics awards and prizes that recognize outstanding achievements.