ISU Math Professor Visits U-High


Poleena Kovalaske, Reporter, Photographer

On February 19th, a representative from the Mathematics Department  from ISU engaged all AP Calculus students in a discussion based solely on the opportunities that math holds, women included. Dr. Sunil Chebolu is hoping that his visits to high schools will encourage students not to underestimate the importance of mathematics but instead show them that “math is cool.”

“There are a lot of bright high school students who are just not well informed of the exciting opportunities for math majors” Chebolu said. “This was actually an eye opener for me because I was talking to high school counselors and they themselves did not know about the things that I have been speaking about. And so how can I expect students to know.”

Students frequently ask “why do I need to know math?” Or “why am I learning this?” Chebolu proceeded to answer these questions by providing statistics and real life examples of Americans who have succeeded with a degree in math in fields like engineering and biology.

“I love being able to talk to high school kids and tell them how math is very beautiful, it’s very fun, and it’s applicable as there are lots of jobs in the market for math majors,” Chebolu said. In fact, many U-High students were already familiar with Dr. Chebolu. He teaches a semester course at ISU in addition to his administrative and research work.

While Chebolu’s lecture didn’t specify towards women in math, he makes it very clear that women have become a big part of the math world.

“In the 20 or more years that I have been in the STEM field, I have seen a dramatic increase  in the amount of women involved with mathematics,” Chebolu said. “In fact, now when I go to conferences, many of the mathematicians involved are women.” Chebolu goes on to say that whatever society is doing now to increase the number of women within the STEM field, is clearly working.

Dr. Kevin Thompson agreed that more and more women are challenging the stereotypes about women and math.  “I think it’s been interesting at U-High to see that the research doesn’t really fit here about this lack of girls within math,” Thompson said. “Within AP Calc over the years, the course is much more split in terms of the numbers of male and females in the class. I see the same thing in Math team as well.” In fact, this year’s enrollment in AP Calculus is 35 males and 33 females.  

Chebolu and Thompson both plan to continue spreading the word on all the different opportunities mathematics can offer.

Chebolu said,“It doesn’t matter if the student is male or female because the same philosophy applies. Math is actually fun.” According to him, “There is a window where it’s not too difficult and not too easy where you get the right kick.Where it sparks your interests to overcome the challenge.”