Dr. Maritza Branker, actuarial program director and associate professor in the mathematics department at Niagara University, presented her solo-authored research in three different thematic sessions at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, the largest mathematical gathering in the world.

During the American Mathematical Society’s Special Session on Ethics in the Mathematics Classroom on Jan. 3, 2024, Dr. Branker presented “Viewing our students as ambassadors of the discipline: a new approach to a mathematics senior seminar.” The presentation focused on the rationale and details of designing a senior seminar course on the theme of the relevance of mathematics to society. Recognizing that students in her math courses are pursuing a variety of majors, Dr. Branker believes that viewing students as ambassadors of the discipline provides the flexibility to accommodate all students while providing a venue where they can articulate their personal philosophy on the significance of mathematics and grapple with ethical ramifications of the discipline on society.

The next day, Dr. Branker discussed the “Surprising benefits to playing the card game SET in a foundations of mathematics classroom,” during the AMS Special Session on Informal Learning, Identity, and Attitudes in Mathematics. Those benefits include serving as an ice breaker, enabling informal peer-to-peer interactions, allowing professors to ascertain the suitability of pairings for group work, and fostering a general spirit of playfulness and collegiality among students.

On Jan. 5, Dr. Branker’s talk, entitled “Cauchy’s Persuasive Appeal” was presented during the AMS Special Session on History of Mathematics. It focused on the research she conducted on Augustin Louis Cauchy’s 1835 work, “Cours d’analyse de L’Ecole royale Polytechnique,” and its impact on the mathematical landscape.

Dr. Branker joined Niagara University in 2006, after completing postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Toronto and Syracuse University. She is a polymath, publishing and presenting scholarly work in pluripotential theory, approximation theory, rhetoric of science, history of mathematics, higher education research, and mathematics education. Her latest addition to her research program is the area of leadership, and she has ongoing projects in all of the previously mentioned areas. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pure mathematics from the University of Western Ontario, and her Ph.D. in pure mathematics from the University of Toronto.