Gweneth Humphreys Award

2018 Winner: Erica Flapan


The Association for Women in Mathematics is pleased to present its eighth annual M. Gweneth Humphreys Award to Erica Flapan, the Lingurn H. Burkhead Professor of Mathematics at Pomona College.

Dr. Flapan’s dedication to her students is exceptional, and she has received awards for teaching and advising at her home institution as well as at the national level. She has also devoted many of her summers to teaching in mathematics programs and institutes, most often at the Summer Math Program for Women at Carleton College. She has served as a mentor to more than sixty female undergraduates, many of whom have gone on to receive their doctorates and have careers in mathematics.

Students describe Dr. Flapan as a role model who serves as a champion for undergraduate women in mathematics. She inspires confidence in her students, yet her “pragmatism and directness are refreshing.” She has been described as having a special talent for identifying when students may need extra support, and she “listens with kindness and magnanimity.” As one student wrote, “Knowing that I essentially still had an advisor, even after I graduated, meant the world to me.”

In the classroom, she has high expectations and demands rigor, but is also known as someone who tells “hilarious stories” and organizes community-building activities. As one student wrote, “Erica Flapan singlehandedly changed my perception of mathematics, mathematicians, and my place within the field.” Another student shared a message from Dr. Flapan that resonated with her profoundly: “There is a place in mathematics for all of us.”

The AWM is proud to pay tribute to Dr. Flapan’s devotion to mentoring and advising.

Response from Erica Flapan:

I am honored to have been selected for this prestigious award and deeply grateful to Deanna Haunsperger, Helen Wong, and numerous former students for nominating me. The most satisfying aspect of my 34 years of teaching mathematics has been mentoring students and helping them identify and achieve their goals. I have been extremely lucky to have the opportunity to get to know and mentor so many wonderful women students at Pomona College and at the Carleton College Summer Mathematics Program for Women (SMP). In particular, being an instructor for 11 summers at SMP changed my life in ways I could never have predicted. Above all, it enabled me to be part of a growing community of women in mathematics at all stages from undergraduates, to graduate students, to faculty members. The experience of mentoring these women and watching them develop into mathematicians who teach and mentor their own students is something I will always cherish. This could not have happened without the vision and leadership of Deanna Haunsperger and Stephen Kennedy. I cannot thank them enough for having given me the opportunity to be part of SMP.