Weinberg college adviser helped support women, minorities in mathematics

Sammy Caiola

Weinberg will hold a memorial service Wednesday for a beloved 37-year-old mathematics professor who died in September.

Prof. Angela Grant, a college adviser in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Ralph Boas Assistant Professor of Mathematics, died Sept. 20 of breast cancer. She will be remembered for her love of sports, baking, pottery and life, students and colleagues said.

“There’s a real energy that is gone,” Weinberg College Adviser Hilarie Lieb said. “We all really need this (memorial) service. This can give us some closure.”

The service will be held in the Alice Millar Chapel Wednesday at 7 p.m. and followed by a reception in Parkes Hall. The service will feature speakers from the math department, fellow advisers, former students and family members.

Grant joined the Weinberg faculty in 2005 after earning her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland where she researched chaotic dynamical systems, a branch of mathematics. In 2008, she became a Weinberg college adviser.

Prof. Sheila Donohue, a fellow college adviser, described Grant as warm and enthusiastic.

“I saw her just about every day, ” Donohue said. “She was good friends with just about everyone in the office. She was extremely joyful and happy to be involved with her colleagues and students.”

Of the many classes Grant taught at NU, a popular freshman seminar received rave reviews, said Maria Stadnik, a graduate student in mathematics. The course, Long Runs and Long Shots: The Mathematics of Sports, was taught during Spring Quarter 2010.

“She set high standards for her students and brought her enthusiasm into the classroom,” mathematics Prof. Martina Bode said. “Her students adored her, so they took the challenge and rose to her standards.”

Grant served as a college adviser for 270 students in Weinberg. Her co-worker Lieb said although the job pool the year she was hired was competitive, the vote for Grant was unanimous.

Since Grant’s death, “the office feels empty,” Lieb said.

In addition to her faculty and administrative roles, Grant was involved with the NU branch of the Association for Women in Mathematics, a national organization that encourages women to pursue careers in mathematics. The branch was established in 2004, and Grant expanded it by creating a mentor program for female undergraduates, pairing them with older students to discuss careers in mathematics.

“She was very dedicated to ensuring success for everyone, including women and underrepresented minority,” said Prof. Christine Bell, a college adviser. “Math is not a place where you see as many females or scholars of color. She wanted to change that.”

Grant, who was black, was also involved in Multicultural Student Affairs, Lieb said.

Beyond her academic interests, Grant enjoyed making pottery, a hobby she continued while undergoing treatment, and gave pieces to nurses and doctors, Bode said.

Avid Cincinnati Bengals fans, Grant and Prof. Jaime Dominguez, also a college adviser, often looked forward to “Monday morning coffee and a lot of banter about sports.”

Some of Grant’s colleagues and students said very few people knew she was fighting cancer.

“I was shocked,” said Catherine Kennedy, a Weinberg senior. “I never would have guessed. She was always warm and pleasant, and willing to go out of her way to help me out.”

Another student, Ruth Chen, called Grant “a friend.”

“She was very supportive and never tried to talk me out of the decisions I made,” the Weinberg senior said. “She was more like a friend helping me with what I was trying to do rather than a higher up.”

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