SDSU math professor wins prestigious CSU award

by Ashley Na, Contributor

San Diego State mathematics and statistics Assistant Professor Antoni Luque was announced as one of the nominees for the first Faculty Innovation Leadership on Aug. 28.

Luque was among 25 other California State University faculty recipients to receive this award out of the total 23 CSUs. On the day he received the email regarding the Faculty Innovation Leadership Awards on Aug. 16, Luque said he was planning to leave campus after work and had barely managed to check his email throughout the busy day.

Luque said getting this award was refreshing because it reminded him that people still value traditional teaching methods in light of the increased focus on research.

“The experience is rewarding in terms that I made a lot of effort in changes in teaching and sometimes, teaching doesn’t get valued as much,” Luque said. “Many of our main goals in the university (deal with) our research, to train students who research and to bring value to the university through research.”

In a letter of support for Luque’s nomination, Professor and Director of Center for Teaching and Learning Jennifer Imazeki said Luque stood out in his commitment to active learning.

“Since (Luque) joined SDSU in 2015, he has attended about 30 CTL workshops and engaged in initiatives to integrate active learning across campus,” Imazeki said.

In a letter of testimony in support of the nomination of Luque, College of Sciences Associate Dean Cathie Atkin noted that Luque has an impressive track record when it comes to getting students where they want to be. She said Luque’s lab has mentored nine research undergraduates and is about to take on five more. Two of his four graduates, she said, have even gone on to be accepted into “prestigious Ph.D. or Master programs.”

“The research of these students has been showcased in local and national conferences and have been published in papers that are under review,” Atkins said.

Imazeki said, when Luque took over the Methods of Applied Mathematics I and II courses in Fall 2015, he changed the pedagogy and reorganized the topics after surveying faculty in physics and astronomy to identify the most important mathematical tools needed in those majors. He flipped the classroom to allocate more hands-on time in class using team-based learning. The lectures were recorded in short video segments using the Learning Glass technology.

“Dr. Luque’s strength is developing courses where students use their time effectively in class and develop valuable soft, technical and intellectual skills that align with their professional careers,” Imazeki said. “His vision has been reflected in the three courses that he has redesigned.”

As part of the award, Luque will receive a $5,000 cash award and $10,000 to be allocated to academic departments to support awardee activities. Luque said he intends to allocate the money towards equipment so students who work with him have opportunities to do better research and better internships.