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Published April 15, 2019
James Munkres, a famous mathematician from MIT, once said, “Some people teach to cover the mathematics; others teach to uncover the mathematics.”
Bryan Shader says he tries to be the latter type of instructor at the University of Wyoming.
“I want my students to see the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of mathematics, and to see it as a powerful tool for understanding the world around them; and to enable them to be innovators,” he says.
Shader, a professor in UW’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is the recipient of the 2019 John P. Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award. The Ellbogen award recognizes the long, distinguished and exemplary career of one senior faculty member who has excelled as a teacher at UW.
Shader credits the UW students he’s had the fortune to teach, and his colleagues throughout campus, for the prestigious teaching award.
“Their curiosity, desire to learn and strong work ethic provide the motivation to work my tail off to give them the educational experience they deserve,” Shader says. “It has certainly taken the UW village to raise this child. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues at UW.”
Shader’s colleagues laud his teaching prowess.
“Professor Shader excels in teaching at all levels of the mathematics curriculum, from entry-level calculus classes to advanced graduate courses and seminars,” says Myron Allen, a fellow UW professor of mathematics who nominated Shader for the award. “He is one of UW’s most sought-after mathematics teachers.”
“He works hard to create a sense of ease by simplifying hard concepts into small(er) bite-size pieces,” says Farhad Jafari, a fellow professor of mathematics who has known Shader since 1984, when both were graduate students and friends at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “His ingenious use of beautiful examples and connections with simpler concepts makes it all look simple and natural.”
Shader came to UW in 1990 as an assistant professor in mathematics and became a full professor in 2000. He headed the Department of Mathematics from 2006-09. Shader has received four Mortar Board Top Prof Awards; the Ellbogen Award for Meritorious Classroom Teaching in 1999; the College of Arts and Sciences Top 10 Faculty Award three times; the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award in 2009; and the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award in 2009.
Shader’s achievements outside the classroom are many as well.
He was the interim director of the Advanced Research Computing Center from 2013-14 and served as a special assistant in research computing from 2010-17. From 2011-17, he was special assistant to the vice president for research and development. Since 2011, he has served as co-chair of the Wyoming-National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Alliance Resource Allocations Panel (WRAP), a group that evaluates and makes recommendations for which UW-led research projects are granted use of the computational resources at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC).
He says access to the NWSC has “tremendously” helped UW faculty members and students conduct advanced research in mathematics and other fields.
“Because of the NWSC, our faculty are able to perform computational studies at higher resolution, broader scope, and which include multiple scales and multiple physical phenomena,” Shader says. “In several UW classes, students are able to use the Cheyenne supercomputer in their studies. Not many universities are able to provide these types of opportunities to their students. The dividends are being seen in the job placement of our graduates; the papers published in the best journals; and the ability to attract new faculty to UW.”
Shader received his Ph.D. and master’s degree in mathematics, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from UW.