First Mathematician to Win the Nobel Prize Takes an Interest in Pre-College Instruction
With all the publicity that the film A Beautiful Mind brought to Nobel Laureate John Nash (Economics 1994), who was only the second mathematician to win a Nobel Prize, forgotten has been the first mathematician to win a Nobel Prize, Dr. Herbert Hauptman (Chemistry 1985). Despite much speculation, why there is no Nobel Prize for mathematics has remained a mystery for over a century. Following graduation from the Townsend Harris High School, Dr. Hauptman enrolled and then graduated from CCNY in 1937 (math major). Like many graduates during the depression, Dr. Hauptman thought that teaching would be the logical career to pursue. Fortunately for the world of science, Dr. Hauptman’s Bronx dialect kept him from this position and enabled him to begin a career as a research scientist. Yet in recent years his interest in the instruction of mathematics has been rekindled.
Today, Dr. Hauptman is a world-renowned mathematician who pioneered and developed a mathematical method that has changed the whole field of chemistry and opened a new era in research in determination of molecular structures of crystallized materials. Dr. Hauptman’s direct methods, which he has continued to improve and refine, are routinely used to solve complicated structures. It was the application of this mathematical method to a wide variety of chemical structures that led the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to name Dr. Hauptman reciortant because it relates molecular structure with biological activity and therefore permits a better understanding of life processes. In this way one can devise better methods for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, othortant because it relates molecular structure with biological activity and therefore permits a better understanding of life processes. In this way one can devise better methods for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, other honors awarded to Dr. Hauptman include election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1988; and receipt of honorary degrees from the University of Maryland in 1985, CCNY in 1986, University of Parma, Italy in 1989, Bar-Ilan University, Israel in 1990, Columbia University in 1990, Technical University of Lodz, Poland in 1992, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada in 1993 and Niagara University, New York in 1996.
He has authored over 350 publications, including journal articles, research papers, chapters and books. In 1970 Dr. Hauptman joined the crystallographic group of the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (formerly the Medical Foundation of Buffalo) of which he became Research Director in 1972. He currently serves as President of the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute. Prior to coming here he worked as a mathematician and supervisor in various departments at the Naval Research Laboratory from 1947. In addition to his B.S. from the City College of New York (CUNY), he received his M.S. from Columbia University and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.
In recent years Dr. Hauptman has taken an interest in the math education of young people. Always interested in motivating the next generation towards mathematics and thereby increasing the pool of mathematicians forging their way through the challenges presented by our technological advances. Towards this end, we have co-authored 101 Great Ideas for Introducing Key Concepts in Mathematics (Corwin/Sage Publications, 2001), a book designed to provide secondary school teachers with some innovative ideas to incorporate into their regular high school instructional program. His interest to communicate on this theme led him to write introductory sections for two of my forthcoming books, Math Charmers: Tantalizing Tidbits for the Mind (Prometheus, 2003) and Math Wonders: Motivation for Teachers and Students (ASCD, 2003).#
Dr. Alfred S. Posamentier is the Dean of the School of Education, City College of New York.