La Trobe professor wins top maths award

March 25, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Professor Gilah Leder has become the first Australian to win the prestigious Felix Klein Medal.

Gilah Leder

The international honour has been awarded for Leder’s thirty year achievements in the education, research and development of mathermatics.

The medal is presented every four years with previous winners based in France, Brazil and the United States.

Leder, an emeritus professor at Melbourne’s La Trobe University and an adjunct professor at Monash University told J-Wire: “I am excited and humbled about winning this prize but it is ultimately a reflection of the strength of maths in Australia.”

She added: “Children, especially when they are very young, somehow love working with numbers. I have three grandchildren. The oldest of them is seven and we play games working out the numbers needed of items for the Shabbos table each week. I love the the beauty and the power of maths and the special creative thrill when a problem is resolved.”

Leder was born in Holland but grew up in Adelaide.  She will be presented with her medal at the next International Commission on Mathematical Instruction to be held in Seoul in 2012.

Felix Klein died in 1925 but remains a seminal figure in the world of maths education. He was the author of “Elementary Mathematics from an Advanced Standpoint”….published over 100 years ago.

The full citation reads:

It is with great pleasure that the ICMI Awards Committee hereby announces that the Felix Klein Medal for 2009 is given to IAS Distinguished Professor and Professor Emerita Gilah C. Leder, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia, in recognition of her more than thirty years of sustained, consistent, and outstanding lifetime achievements in mathematics education research and development.

With a background as a highly recognised secondary teacher of mathematics, Gilah Leder moved, through a number of steps, into research in mathematics education, with a particular emphasis — from the very beginning of her research career — on gender success and equity in mathematics education, but also more broadly on students’ affects, attitudes, beliefs, and self-concepts in relation to mathematics education, at educational levels ranging from school to university. To a very high degree her work has contributed to shaping these areas and made a seminal impact on all subsequent research. Moreover, Gilah Leder has done significant work with regard to assessment in mathematics education, mathematically able students, research methodology, supervision of graduate students, and teacher education. A characteristic feature of Gilah Leder’s work — published in almost two hundred scholarly publications — is its application of perspectives and theories from sociology and psychology along with mathematical perspectives.

Gilah Leder’s achievements include a remarkable amount of work for national, regional, and international mathematics education communities in a leadership role, as well as a committee or board member, an editorial board member for several journals and book series, as a mentor and supervisor of graduate students, as a visiting scholar in several countries, and as an invited key note speaker at numerous conferences in all continents.

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