Laurentian Math Professor Luis Radford wins international award

By Kallie Berens

Laurentian Math professor Dr. Luis Radford poses in front of a chalkboard in his office. Photo by Kallie Berens.

Dr. Luis Radford was in Frankfurt at the beginning of February with three hours to wait for his flight to Toronto when he decided to check his email.

He was on his way back from Geneva, where he was attending a mathematics conference. After answering his correspondence he opened up an email from the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction which contained news about the recipient of the 2011 Hans Freudenthal Award, which recognizes major programs of research in the field of mathematics.

What he saw in that email was his own name, asking if he would accept this award.

“I couldn’t believe it. I had to read the email several times,” Radford said. “Our community is quite big – there are many groups in every country devoted to improving the teaching methods used in mathematical studies. It was a big surprise that they picked me.”

The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction was originally formed in 1908 and its purpose is to promote international co operation in mathematics. According to Radford, the ICMI chose him as the recipient for this year’s award because they recognize the work he has done in creating “a strong theoretical and practical research program that has clear implications for the instruction of mathematics teaching.”

Radford, who has been a professor at Laurentian since 1992, will receive the award in a ceremony that will take place this July in South Korea.

The award recipient is chosen by the ICMI’s Awards Committee, which is made up of six members of the commission.

“Over two decades I have been able to build a very strong research program,” said Radford, “the committee said they recognized that I have been actively involved in the Ministry of Education in Ontario and that my work has helped their mathematics curriculum.”

His work has been directly referenced in the latest Ontario mathematics curriculum, and because of this, Radford said that he has been asked to give workshops for teachers and principals in schools.

“It’s very tangible the way my research has affected the curriculum of mathematics,” he said.

According to Radford, he is a member of two chapters of the ICMI – the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, and International Group Relationship between Biology and the History of Mathematics.

Since the award was established in 2003, Radford has been the first Canadian honoured.