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John Meier, associate professor of mathematics at Lafayette College, will deliver a talk entitled “Immutability” at 8 p.m., Wednesday, October 6, in the auditorium of Lafayette’s Kirby Hall of Civil Rights.

Meier’s talk, the first of two Jones Faculty Lectures for the 1999-2000 academic year, is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Faculty Lecture and Awards Fund, established in 1966 to recognize superior teaching and scholarship.

Meier will discuss the mathematical field of topology.

“This field is concerned with finding properties that are preserved under continuous transformations,” Meier says. “So a topologist is someone who searches for ‘immutable properties.’ This is far from simple, and one of my two goals for this lecture is to enucleate the field of topology. I’ll also try to respond to the question, ‘Why would anyone be interested in such a field?’

“Of course the applications of topology to disciplines such as physics and economics provides a mundane answer to this question,” Meier continues. “But the question is deeper than that. I’ll talk about how my interest in topology blends with my interests in fishing, religion, etc. — in short, how the search for immutable properties is a natural response to living in a mutable world.”

Meier joined the Lafayette faculty in 1992. His primary specialty is geometric group theory. His teaching areas include calculus, geometry, linear algebra, and real analysis. He also teaches a seminar called Counting and Culture, in Lafayette’s Values and Science/Technology (VAST) program. The seminar explores connections between math and culture, especially in traditional African cultures and pre-Columbian civilizations.

Meier is co-author of Writing in the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics, a book on the use of writing as a pedagogical tool in mathematics, published last year by the Mathematical Association of America. He has also written many articles in scholarly journals.

A native of Casper, Wyo., Meier holds master’s and doctoral degrees in math from Cornell University and a B.A. in math from the University of Virginia. Meier’s wife, Trisha Thorme, is coordinator of Lafayette’s Landis Community Outreach Center.

The second Jones Faculty Lecture of the academic year will be delivered in the spring by Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures.

Categorized in: Academic News