Biography

More information: Chad’s cv.

Professor of Mathematics Chad Topaz (A.B. Harvard, Ph.D. Northwestern) is an applied mathematician and data scientist at Williams College. His research on complex and nonlinear systems has been supported continuously by the National Science Foundation since 2006.  This work examines  problems in the natural sciences through several lenses, including data science, modeling, analysis, topology, geometric dynamical systems, numerical simulation, and experiment… all with an eye towards understanding and predicting complex behavior. Chad’s other stream of research applies quantitative tools to expose and remedy social injustice, and is based out of the Institute for the Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (QSIDE), which he founded.

Passionate about scientific communication and discourse, Chad has delivered over 160 talks at colleges, universities, and scientific meetings, and has co-organized numerous interdisciplinary minisymposia and workshops on chemical reaction diffusion systems, biological swarming, and related topics. His honors include a New Directions Research Professorship at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (the first given to a liberal arts college faculty member), a Kavli Frontiers Fellowship from the National Academy of Sciences, a Board of Trustees Award from Macalester College, and the 2013 Outstanding Paper Award of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, given to three publications selected from the pool of 16 SIAM journals over the prior three years. Chad’s work has been covered widely in the national and international press.

Chad’s teaching career stands on an intense interest in human learning, on scrupulous attention to learners’ needs and challenges, and on the belief that education is both an art and a science. An avid follower of scholarly research in education studies and educational psychology, he has won UCLA’s Robert Sorgenfrey Distinguished Teaching Award in mathematics and Macalester College’s Rossmann Excellence in Teaching Award. With teaching interests including calculus, scientific computing, differential equations, dynamical systems, mathematical modeling, and complex analysis, Chad also has created a seminar for first year students called “Death, Devastation, Blood, War, Horror, and Mathematics.” Interested in department- and institution-level perspectives, Chad enjoys serving as a program design consultant and external department reviewer. One of his greatest fulfillments has been the melding of his teaching and research lives in the sphere of undergraduate research. He has advised over 100 summer research, capstone, independent study, and honors experiences, with over 50% of these for women and members of other underrepresented groups. Chad has been invited to speak about teaching to audiences such as the Annapolis Group, the New York Six Colleges, the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, the Minnesota Private Colleges Council, as well as numerous college and university mathematics departments.