Hello! I am a mathematics educator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, serving as Director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. I'm also a Clinical Professor of Education and an Adjunct Professor of Mathematics.
This slightly wacky photo of me appeared in Endeavors, UNC's research magazine, in a feature story on my Dictionary of Units of Measurement web site. It's a nice piece by Fred Baldwin, titled Mickey by Mickey, Twip by Twip. Ten years old now, the Dictionary has become a popular reference. Gerard Michon, the Internet science guru, put the site in his Numericana Hall of Fame and was kind enough to call me a metrologist.
I'm not a metrologist, though; I'm a mathematician turned mathematics educator. I want North Carolina and the nation to have the most qualified mathematics teachers we can prepare, and to that end I work to create teacher professional development and career development courses, primarily in the areas of geometry, discrete mathematics, and mathematical modeling. There's more about this on my official page on the School of Education web site. I was asked for a thematic quote to introduce that page, and I chose this quote by Lynn Arthur Steen:
“The key issue for mathematics education is not whether to teach fundamentals but which fundamentals to teach and how to teach them.”
I'm a native of Virginia and received my Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Virginia. After serving in the US Army and holding an instructorship at Princeton University for two years, I taught for 13 years in the Mathematics Department of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. In addition to my research and teaching duties at UTK, I worked to expand the university's cooperative education program. I also worked on undergraduate curriculum, chairing the department's Mathematics Education and Undergraduate Committees and serving on the university's Undergraduate Council. For six years I was Associate Department Head for undergraduate programs.
In 1987 I came to Chapel Hill and my current position as Director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. The Center is the oldest member of the North Carolina Mathematics and Science Education Network (NC-MSEN), a chain of university-based teacher professional development centers that is unique in the nation. In addition to working with teachers, we also host the largest site of the MSEN Pre-College Program, an encouragement program in mathematics and science for area students of grades 6-12.
Lighthouses hold a special attraction for me. We have some magnificent lighthouses here in North Carolina, including the famous Cape Hatteras Light. In 1999, while the Hatteras lighthouse was being relocated to save it from beach erosion, I started a web site called The Lighthouse Directory. Over a ten year period, the Directory has gradually grown to cover lighthouses of the entire world (I hope). In the meanwhile, it has brought in in contact with lighthouse preservation leaders and fans throughout the country and in many other countries.
Rowlett family history is another interest, although I haven't had time to do much with it lately. If your name is Rowlett, then there's a good chance we're related, because my research and that of others suggests that nearly all Rowletts and Rowlettes in the U.S. are descended from one person, Peter Rowlett, who lived near what is now Petersburg, Virginia (no, it's not named for him) between about 1639 and 1703.
Here's how to contact me:
Mailing Address:Russell J. Rowlett
Center for Mathematics and Science Education
CB # 3500, 309 Peabody Hall
UNC Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3500
Telephone: (919) 962-7231
Fax: (919) 962-0588
Office Hours: regular University business hours. (Students are welcome whenever the office is open.)
Thanks for stopping by!
Revised August 10, 2006