Holy Cross Mathematics Professor is Named Executive Director of the American Mathematical Society

Catherine Roberts, professor of mathematics at College of the Holy Cross, was recently named the new executive director of the American Mathematical Society (AMS), an organization dedicated to furthering the interests of mathematical research, scholarship and education, located in Providence, R.I.

“The Holy Cross community is thrilled with Catherine’s appointment. This is a remarkable accomplishment for Catherine, and is recognition of the work she has done to support mathematics education at every level and to increase the participation of women and other underrepresented groups in the STEM disciplines,” says Margaret Freije, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. "We are confident that Catherine’s passion for mathematics teaching and scholarship, her commitment to liberal arts education and her dedication to mentoring students and colleagues will allow her to expand the efforts of the American Mathematical Society to promote mathematics to a wide audience."

Roberts will start her new role in August, following the retirement of AMS’ current executive director, Don McClure. In this position, Roberts will work to support mathematics at all levels, promote the transmission of mathematical understanding and skills in the community, and foster an awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to elements in everyday life.

“I look forward to being a spokesperson for the importance of the mathematical research that so many people are doing in our country,” Roberts shares. “The creative and valuable discoveries in mathematics impact our lives in so many ways, both known and yet-to-be fully understood. The AMS plays an important role advocating for mathematics scholarship and education, and supports this work through publishing, career development, and in many other ways.”

Roberts has already served on a number of AMS committees, including the Committee on Education, the Committee on Professional Ethics, and the Committee on Meetings and Conferences. Her research in applied mathematics has been in nonlinear Volterra integral equations and natural resource modeling. Roberts also currently serves as editor-in-chief of Natural Resource Modeling, and has immersed herself in numerous educational roles, including associate editor of the American Mathematical Monthly, and as an instructor and trainer for the Intel Math Program.

Roberts also feels that her new role will help her play a greater role in integrating mathematics and the liberal arts in society, especially among under-represented populations.

“I hope to continue my life-long advocacy in support of the liberal arts,” she said. “I am also eager to continue to promote efforts to increase the participation of women in mathematics and science and to support work in diversifying our discipline. In many ways, I feel this new opportunity offers me a way to amplify the efforts that I have always been involved with in my classroom and in my student advising.”

While Roberts’s work at the AMS will be full-time, she plans on keeping the mathematical conversations going with the Holy Cross community. “I will continue to engage in conversations in the mathematics and computer science department and will be actively advising and mentoring a number of my former students and advisees,” she explains. “I have been deeply involved with the Holy Cross community for more than 15 years. It is a special and important community that remains in my life always.”

As a professor at Holy Cross, Roberts taught classes in calculus, applied mathematics and mathematical modeling, and served as the chair of the mathematics and computer science department from 2009 to 2015. She received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in applied mathematics and engineering sciences, and her A.B. at Bowdoin College in mathematics and art history. Roberts has also been active in the Holy Cross community, including dishing out midnight breakfast to students during finals periods and mentoring students.

Related coverage:

The Landmark, Aug. 24: Holden resident named Executive Director of AMS at Holy Cross