Public Release: 

MathFest Science-Policy Panel to feature Gates, Holt, Manderscheid

American Association for the Advancement of Science

How can educators inspire more U.S. students to succeed in mathematics?

Television star S. James Gates Jr., a self-described "simple country theoretical physicist," former Congressman Rush Holt, a five-time Jeopardy! winner who now heads the world's largest general scientific society; and Ohio State University's David Manderscheid will share their thoughts on advancing math literacy during a special science policy panel at MAA MathFest.

The panel will explore what Gates calls "the magic of mathematics," and the role that educators can play in advancing national priorities related to science and math literacy as well as college graduation rates.

It will take place Wednesday, August 5, from 2:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. in Salon 2/3 of the Marriott Wardman Park, 2660 Woodley Road, N.W., Washington, DC 20008. Credentialed reporters can request a free press pass by contacting Alexandra Branscombe at

The MAA MathFest is the annual summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). This year the MAA is celebrating its centennial as an organization. MAA MathFest--featuring six centennial lectures by distinguished mathematicians as well as many other sessions designed to celebrate mathematics and collegiate mathematics education--will run August 5-8. Evening events will highlight MAA members and mathematical culture.

Speaker bios for the MAA MathFest policy panel follow.


Sylvester James "Jim" Gates, Jr. serves as the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also director of the String and Particle Theory Center, affiliate professor of mathematics, and serves on President Barack Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and on the Maryland State Board of Education.

Gates has been featured extensively on many NOVA PBS programs on physics, notably "The Elegant Universe" in 2003, and ''The Fabric of the Cosmos'' in 2011. In 2006, he completed a DVD series titled "Superstring Theory: The DNA of Reality" for The Teaching Company, composed of 24 half-hour lectures to make the complexities of unification theory comprehensible to non-physicists. He is past president of the National Society of Black Physicists, and is a NSBP Fellow, as well as a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Institute of Physics in the United Kingdom. He also is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society. In 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, becoming the first African-American physicist so recognized in its 150-year history.

In 2013, Gates received the Mendel Medal from Villanova University "in recognition of his influential work in supersymmetry, supergravity and string theory, as well as his advocacy for science and science education in the United States and abroad." President Obama awarded Gates the Medal of Science, the highest award given to scientists in the United States, at a White House ceremony in 2013.


Rush Holt is chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. Before joining AAAS, Holt served for 16 years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New Jersey's 12th Congressional District. In Congress, Holt served as a senior member of the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. On Capitol Hill, Holt established a long track record of advocacy for federal investment in research and development, science education, and innovation. He served on the National Commission on the Teaching of Mathematics and Science (the Glenn Commission), founded the Congressional Research and Development Caucus, and was a co-chair of the Biomedical Research Caucus. A five-time winner of the show "Jeopardy!," Holt once beat IBM's supercomputer Watson in an exhibition round of the game as part of an effort to highlight the importance of innovation.

Over his long career, Holt has held positions as a teacher, scientist, administrator, and policymaker. From 1980 to 1988, Holt served on the faculty of Swarthmore College, where he taught courses in physics and public policy. From 1987 to 1998, Holt was assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University.

In 1982, he took leave from Swarthmore to serve as an AAAS/American Physical Society Science and Technology Policy Fellow on Capitol Hill. Holt has said that his AAAS S&T Policy Fellowship was "life changing" and served as a springboard to his role in Congress. He also served as an arms control expert at the U.S. State Department, where he monitored the nuclear programs of countries such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union.

Holt is a graduate of Carleton College and holds an MA and a PhD in physics from New York University.


David Manderscheid is executive dean and vice provost of the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State University.

Manderscheid received a BS degree in mathematics from Michigan State University and a PhD degree in mathematics from Yale University. His research is in representation theory, with applications to number theory. He has won numerous teaching awards and received support from the National Science Foundation, the National Security Agency, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Manderscheid is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Mathematical Society. He chairs the American Mathematical Society Committee on Academic Freedom, Employment Security, and Tenure and the Mathematical Association of America Committee on Science Policy. He sits on the board of directors of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics Committee on Diversity.


For more information on MAA MathFest, see:

For information on the science-policy panel, see:

Media Contacts: Ginger Pinholster

Alexandra Branscombe

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.