UMD News Releases

Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

October 21, 2008
Susan Beasy Latto, Director, UMD Public Relations (218) 726-8830
Joseph A. Gallian, Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics (218) 726-7576

American Leadership in Mathematical Sciences Is At Risk
Study Finds
UMD Professor Co-Author

UMD Mathematics Professor Joseph A. Gallian is a co-author of a recently published comprehensive study, which demonstrates that American leadership in the mathematical sciences and related fields is at risk.

According to Science Daily magazine's online article, the report shows that a majority of the top young mathematicians in the U.S. were not born here. The study draws on decades of data from extremely difficult mathematics competitions aimed at the most elite student math performers.

UMD Professor Gallian is the current president of the Mathematical Association of America and served as a co-author of the report, which was featured in the New York Times and Boston Globe. It is currently published in the November issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society.

Professor Gallian says in Science Daily, "Just as there is concern about the U.S. relying on foreign countries for our oil and manufactured goods, we should also be concerned about relying on others to fill our needs for mathematicians, engineers and scientists."

Study findings show:

  • Eighty percent of female and 60 percent of male faculty hired in recent years by the top U.S. research university math departments were born in other countries.
  • In the U.S. mathematic talent is routinely overlooked or ignored, with many American students feeling they are actively discouraged from excelling in math. In other countries, where this ability is highly valued, students with such talent are frequently identified and nurtured.
  • American children of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Asia are much more likely to be identified as possessing extraordinary mathematical ability.
  • The pipeline for nurturing top math talent in the U.S. is badly broken beginning at the middle school level.

The study also notes that many girls with extremely high aptitude for math exist, but they are rarely identified in the U.S. because they veer from a career trajectory in the mathematical sciences due to the low respect American culture places on math, systemic flaws in the U.S. public school education system, and a lack of role models.

Science Daily states that based on the recent study, "In the future the U.S. may no longer be able to depend upon hiring foreign workers to fill its jobs in the mathematical sciences and related fields." The report suggests that the economic well-being of the U.S. is at risk, and that it is crucial that steps be taken now to correct this problem.

The research team says, a good start would include implementing the recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel and fully funding the America COMPETES, "10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds" and Sowing the Seeds through Science and Engineering Research Acts already passed by the U.S. Congress.

The article on the study in the Science Daily online magazine can be found at:

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