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John Adam, the University Professor of mathematics who is renowned for his ability to make numbers interesting, is a 2007 recipient of the Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

He is Old Dominion's 20th winner since 1991, when sociologist Karen Polonko brought the university its first SCHEV faculty award. This is the ninth straight year that Old Dominion has had a winner in the highly competitive program, which is funded by the Dominion Foundation.

Each year about a dozen faculty members at the state's colleges and universities are chosen for the honor. This year's recipients, chosen from among 95 nominees, will receive $5,000 in cash and a commemorative engraved award.

"It was the best Christmas present my 93-year-old mother received this year," said Adam, who was notified of the award in December.

The mother and Adam's father, who was a farm worker in the family's native England, scraped together enough money to buy their 12-year-old son a brass telescope to encourage his early interest in astronomy. His interest changed to mathematics after he had earned a doctorate in astrophysics from the University of London in 1975.

During 23 years at Old Dominion, Adam has won international recognition for his research in mathematical modeling and mathematical biology involving tumor growth and wound healing. He produced the text and photographs for a book, "Mathematics in Nature: Modeling Patterns in the Natural World" (Princeton University Press, 2003), which won the Association of American Publishers Mathematics and Statistics Professional/Scholarly Award in 2004 and was one of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2004.

The 2007 Outstanding Faculty Award recipient also wins praise for his teaching.

"John Adam has a reputation as an instructor of choice," said Dana Burnett, Old Dominion's former vice president for student affairs and professor of education. "This isn't because he is an easy 'A', but because he creates a learning environment that, according to one student's description, 'makes mathematics real.' His creativity and passion for teaching extends itself beyond the classroom. John speaks to community groups on the role of mathematics in describing the world we all call home."

The chair of the university's Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Mark Dorrepaal, said Adam has "developed an innovative, first-class research program that regularly brings external recognition" to ODU. "He has provided his profession, his university and his community with valuable services, and has earned the reputation of being an inspirational teacher."

Between Polonko in 1991 and Adam in 2007, the ODU faculty award winners have been: Gregory Selby, mechanical engineering, 1992; Michele Darby, dental hygiene, 1993; Nancy Bazin, English, 1994; Helen Rountree, anthropology, 1995; William Stanley, engineering, 1996; Dana Heller, English, 1997; Daniel Dauer, biology, and Chris Drake, geography, 1999; John Toomey, music, 2000; Dwight Allen, educational reform, and Sushil Chaturvedi, mechanical engineering, 2001; Janet Peery, English and creative writing, 2002; Sheri Reynolds, English and creative writing, 2003; Charles Wilson, English, 2004; Katharine Kersey, early childhood education, and Cynthia Jones, oceanography, 2005; and Sharon Raver-Lampman, early childhood special education, and Donald Zeigler, geography, 2006.

This article was posted on: February 8, 2007

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