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How to contact me

Web: http://educ.jmu.edu/~willi5cl
Email: willi5cl AT jmu DOT edu

Office: 113 Roop Hall
Phone: 540.568.4944
Fax: 540.568.6857
Mailing Address:
MSC 1911
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA 22807

My life story (abridged)

Except for a brief excursion to California when I was a toddler, I lived my entire life in Colorado until the summer of 2012.  I was born and raised in Loveland, Colorado, a sleepy town at the gateway to the Rocky Mountains.  I spent a lot of time playing in the backyard with my sister.  In elementary school my favorite subject was creative writing and I wrote some pretty ridiculous stories over the years.  In the seventh grade I had an amazing teacher who inspired me to become one myself.  Mr B taught me that English grammar isn’t boring when you sing, dance, and rhyme your way through it (I can still recite my helping verbs an undisclosed number of years later).

In high school, I took challenging classes and filled the rest of my time with Knowledge Bowl, choir, clogging, and technical theatre.  I graduated in 2000 and went off to college at Adams State College (now Adams State University), a small school in southern Colorado with a recognized education program.  I received a lot of personal encouragement and mentoring from the math faculty there, including being chosen as the “Outstanding Mathematics Student” in 2003.  I graduated with a BA in Secondary Mathematics Education in 2003 and returned to northern Colorado to look for a job.

The next three years were spent teaching seventh through ninth grade math at Liberty Common School, a Core Knowledge charter school in Fort Collins, Colorado.  I had more fun than expected working with those students, teaching Pre-Algebra through Pre-Calculus and coaching a MathCounts team.  As much as I loved my students and curriculum, I missed working on higher level mathematics.  Graduate school was the next logical step, with the goal of becoming a university professor and sharing my love of mathematics with students not unlike myself.

I did my graduate work in mathematics at Colorado State University, working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant as well.  I work in arithmetic geometry, at the intersection of number theory and algebraic geometry.  I finished my Ph.D. project on conjugacy classes of matrix groups and isogeny classes of abelian varieties in Summer 2012 under the advisement of Jeff Achter.  Check out my Math page for more details of my more recent work.

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at James Madison University in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  When I'm not teaching, I'm checking out the nearby hills (which the locals keep calling mountains), hanging out with my cat, knitting, reading, and skyping with my niece and nephews back in Colorado.

Personal (Non-math, Non-teaching) Interests

When I’m not doing math or teaching, you can usually find me either sleeping or doing one of these things.

Whether I’m hiking, wandering around a new city, or playing with my niece and nephews, I probably have my camera with me.  I find it gives me a different perspective on what I’m seeing and allows me to express a different part of my personality.  To see more pictures, check out my Photography page.  All of the pictures on my website are my own.

Hiking & Snowshoeing, Camping & Skiing
Colorado is an amazingly beautiful place to be, both in the summer and in the winter.  I enjoy taking a slow stroll through the trees, picnicking by a mountain lake, and listening to the roar of a waterfall.  I remember camping with my parents and my sister outside of Estes Park, Colorado in the summers; my favorite part was roasting marshmallows over the campfire and singing with my dad while we hiked.  In the winter, there’s a quiet in the snow-covered forest that is very calming.  I have been skiing for many years and enjoy spending that time in the mountains on the snow, the wind in my face as I speed down the mountain.  While the skiing in Virginia leaves something to be desired, I look forward to an opportunity to try out skiing up in Vermont or New York!  In many ways, hiking (in any location) is just an excuse for me to play with my camera while getting some exercise!  I am exploring the hills around Harrisonburg, and am constantly amazed by the number of trees blocking my view!  The vistas aren't as broad, but the colors are much more vibrant, which makes for just as interesting pictures.

I have been an avid reader as long as I can remember.  I have childhood memories of reading in bed with a flashlight after I was supposed to be asleep, and it is still one of my favorite pastimes.  Now I curl up on my couch with a novel and my cat, Milo, asleep in my lap.  I tend to read science fiction and fantasy, but I love a good mystery or math history book too.

I recently taught myself how to knit! It's very satisfying to spend time working on a project and have a physical manifestation of that time and energy at the end of it. I haven't gotten too crazy yet, but I'm getting pretty good at hats, blankets, and fixing my mistakes.

Dancing & Live Music
In high school, college, and while I taught junior high I danced in various groups who all did loud types of dancing.  Recreationally, I like to dance salsa and swing (both West Coast and country swing), especially to live music.  I love checking out local bands or seeing my favorite bands on a national tour.  Current (and perennial) faves include JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, the Hackensaw Boys, Mumford and Sons, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Old Crow Medicine Show, and the Barenaked Ladies.

Math has taken me to some really amazing places, like Costa Rica, Banff, and France.  I enjoy taking road trips to see new parts of the US, and am looking forward to spending more time abroad.  I am excited to visit Spain, Italy, and London, and I would like to return to Costa Rica and explore South America.  With my camera, of course!