Math professor Vinodh Chellamuthu receives national mentoring award

Dixie State University Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Vinodh Chellamuthu was one of only three people nationwide recently honored with a 2020 Award for Excellence in Mentoring.

The Council on Undergraduate Research’s Mathematics and Computer Sciences division recognized Chellamuthu with the Early Career Faculty Mentoring Award for his continued efforts in supporting undergraduate research. The award recognizes faculty whose undergraduate research mentoring provides professional development opportunities to students and whose efforts have a growing impact within the mathematics community.

“I am grateful and honored to receive the Council on Undergraduate Research mentoring award and this recognition was the corroboration to the quality of undergraduate research that my students and I conducted over last five years,” Chellamuthu said. “I consider my role as a mentor to be not limited to the undergraduate research project but extend to their long-term success in a holistic manner.”

During his tenure at DSU, Chellamuthu has mentored more than 40 undergraduate students in 28 research projects. These projects have led to more than 50 presentations at various conferences, several awards for outstanding student presentations and three publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Chellamuthu’s focus as a mentor has been in mathematical modeling and helping students with projects that are applicable to real-world settings. Projects have included using mathematics and statistical modeling to predict Zion National Park visitation, developing control mechanisms to prevent the spread of West Nile Virus and predicting analytics for the National Hockey League.

“Not only do projects such as these help students use mathematical tools that they have learned through their coursework to solve problems in real‐world settings, but they also help students see the overall perspective of mathematics usage in application scenario,” Chellamuthu said. “I strongly believe that these experiences give students a taste of the culture of research and life as a scientist.”

One of Chellamuthu’s goal is for students to not only identify problems they want to solve, but also develop innovative research methods and pose investigate scientific questions.

“It is my desire to increase students’ curiosity and get them excited about the research process by creating an authentic learning environment,” Chellamuthu said. “In this way, my students will graduate with a skillset that enables them to solve their own learning challenges, overcome research roadblocks and achieve more complex learning levels by becoming independent researchers. When my students reach their full potential, I rarely play the mentor's role and, most often, become the learner in my own research program.’’

Passionate about implementing Dixie State’s “active learning. active life.” approach to education in his classroom, Chellamuthu helps students with undergraduate research to enhance engagement, enrich learning experiences and build character and confidence.

“I have passionately mentored many students with the aim of indulging them in an intensive and transformative research experience in applied mathematics, in which they learn to view themselves as producers of knowledge as opposed to consumers of knowledge,” Chellamuthu said.

Focused on creating enriched student-learning experiences, Dixie State University’s Mathematics Department offers degree programs in mathematics, mathematic education and applied & computational mathematics, along with multiple minors. To learn more about the mathematics program at Dixie State visit math.dixie.edu.