The Department of Mathematics Alumni Awards recognize exceptional alumni and we are pleased to announce the 2018 recipients. The Outstanding Recent Alumni Award was awarded to Daniel Zaharopol, and the Alumni Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement was awarded to Mary Lynn Reed and John A. Stevenson, Jr.
Daniel Zaharopol (MS Teaching of Mathematics 2008, MS Mathematics 2009) has founded two education non-profit programs: Learning Unlimited and Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM). For the past few years, Dan’s focus has been on BEAM, which provides a comprehensive 6th-12th grade pathway for underserved students to become scientists and mathematicians.
In 2009, Zaharopol helped found Learning Unlimited, a non-profit organization designed to replicate MIT's Splash program at campuses across the country. The Splash concept gives middle and high school students the opportunity to take one-day classes taught by college students in a variety of areas not traditionally seen in school. He served as CEO of Learning Unlimited (which now coordinates 33 Splash-style programs in 13 states and the UK) from 2009 to 2015. Zaharopol then founded the BEAM program in 2011. He partnered with middle schools in New York City to identify talented students from under-served populations. BEAM's students come from households in which the median annual income is $25,000. Those chosen are invited to a five-week intensive summer program after 6th grade, and can apply to continue to a three-week residential summer program after 7th grade where they take seven hours of math per day. Students choose courses in advanced topics often only taught in college, such as number theory, combinatorics, astrophysics, and programming. BEAM is the main project of the Art of Problem Solving Initiative, where Zaharopol serves as the executive director, and has led through tremendous expansion.
Zaharopol is a 2017 winner of the Richard C. Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship, administered by the Manhattan Institute to recognize promising social entrepreneurs. In December 2017, he was also named one of “15 More People Changing the Nonprofit World" by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. BEAM has joined the Edwin Gould Foundation’s Accelerator program, which also helped launch Teach for America.
Dr. Mary Lynn Reed (MS 1990; PhD 1995 Mathematics) is currently Chief of Mathematics Research at the National Security Agency (NSA). Through her diverse and productive career, she has distinguished herself as a national figure in the mathematics profession, making direct research contributions to the classified and unclassified bodies of mathematics literature, demonstrating clear impact to the security of the United States and of the world. She has made visionary efforts to ensure a strong future for applied research for national security, by serving as a leader for diversity and inclusion and by her dedication to increasing the participation of women in the mathematical sciences.
As Chief of Mathematics Research at NSA, Dr. Reed manages the Mathematics Research Group, which is the mathematical heart of NSA. She also oversees three Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) centers: the Centers for Communications Research in Princeton, NJ, and La Jolla, CA, and the Center for Computing Sciences in Bowie, MD. In 2017, she led a team to restructure NSA’s research organizations and programs not only in mathematics, but also in computer science, cybersecurity, physical sciences, and telecommunications. She has set directions for internal research in both mathematics and computer science, including the application of recent developments in artificial intelligence to cryptanalysis.
John A. Stevenson, Jr. received two degrees from the University of Illinois: a BS in the Teaching of Mathematics in 1960, and an MBA in Industrial Marketing in 1978 from the joint University of Illinois and Bell Advanced Management Executive Program.
His career began in June 1960 when he joined AT&T and Illinois Bell in an advanced officer training program. At AT&T he rose to Vice President of Marketing of the Consumer Products Division and managed a labor force of 15,000 employees with an annual revenue budget objective exceeding $2 billion. He was responsible for product development and management of over 600 telecommunications products. He designed a new revenue long-term strategy for retail and global markets resulting in the first phone center store in Woodfield, IL, and the addition of 800 retail stores throughout the U.S.
In 1985 Stevenson was asked by University President Stanley Ikenberry to be the Corporate Officer of the newly formed National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois. The center was designed by the federal government to be the leading center in the world for high performance computing. Stevenson saw this as an opportunity to make major world changing accomplishments so he took early retirement from AT&T and returned to the University of Illinois campus. Stevenson’s vision was to design and create the Industrial Partnership Program at NCSA that would teach all industrial sectors the value of supercomputing and the related high performance computing technologies. Stevenson marketed the program to the top corporations in the U.S. This resulted in him signing 20 major corporations in 13 of the industrial sectors to be partners. He managed the program for over 25 years with companies such as Eastman Kodak, Motorola, Amoco, Boeing, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Caterpillar. Each corporation accomplished a major competitive breakthrough. Stevenson retired as NCSA’s Corporate Officer in 2008, remaining as Senior Consultant until he retired from that position in April 2017.
The alumni awards were presented at the annual Department of Mathematics Awards Ceremony. Watch a video of the ceremony!