Susan Loepp Wins National Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics

Media contact:  Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Jan. 27, 2012 – Williams College Professor of Mathematics Susan R. Loepp has been selected to receive the 2012 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.

The Mathematical Association of America, the largest professional society that focuses on undergraduate mathematics education, created the award in 1991 to honor extraordinary professors whose teaching effectiveness has been shown to have influence beyond their own institutions. Loepp is the fifth Williams math professor to be honored with this award.

At Williams, Loepp teaches courses on abstract algebra, algebraic error-correcting codes, encryption, and Galois theory and modules. Specializing in commutative algebra, she has published articles in the Journal of Algebra and the Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra, among others.

In 2000, she and physics professor Bill Wootters received a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a course on using abstract algebra and quantum physics to protect information. They are the authors of the subsequent textbook Protecting Information: From Classical Error Correction to Quantum Cryptography.

In 2001, Loepp received the Faculty of the Year Award from the Williams student body, and in 2007 she received the Young Alumnus Award from Bethel College, her alma mater. She was also recognized four times for excellence in teaching during graduate school.  In 2010, Loepp won the MAA Northeastern Section Teaching Award.

In 2009 and 2011, she directed the SMALL Undergraduate Research Project at Williams, one of the largest programs of its kind in the country. Loepp is the principal investigator on the current NSF REU grant that partially funds SMALL. The grant runs 2009-2014.

Outside of teaching, Loepp is extensively involved in community life at Williams, participating in groups such as the Committee on Diversity and Community and the Library Committee. She also serves as a reviewer and referee for several academic journals.

Loepp received a B.A. and a B.S. from Bethel College in Kansas, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to Williams, she taught at the University of Nebraska.

Loepp is the fifth Williams professor and the first woman from Williams to be honored with the national Haimo Award. Previous winners include Thomas Garrity in 2004, Edward Burger in 2001, Colin Adams in 1998, and Frank Morgan in 1991.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.

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