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Jean-Marie De Koninck

Université Laval
Sunday, December 3, 2023 | 11am - 12pm

The name of Jean-Marie De Koninck resonated well beyond the borders of Laval University. An innovative teacher, he is above all recognized as a man totally committed to his environment.

Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics from 1972 to 2016, he held key positions there, such as deputy director of the Department of Mathematics and director of the graduate programs in mathematics and statistics. He was able to share his knowledge through 17 books, 174 publications in scientific journals and as a lecturer on almost every continent. He has received numerous grants and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada recently awarded him two major grants, including PromoScience, for projects encouraging the discovery of science among young people.

The remarkable commitment of Jean-Marie De Koninck to the promotion and popularization of science still continues. He is, among other things, director of the Science and Mathematics in Action (SMAC) program, member of the National Advisory Committee on Girls and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), as well as president of the Chair Committee in Science Journalism from Laval University.

As founder of Operation Red Nose, Jean-Marie De Koninck received the Solicitor General of Canada Award for his exceptional contribution to crime prevention. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Knight of the National Order of Quebec. In 2016, the Fields Institute of Mathematics in Toronto presented him with the Margaret Sinclair Award for excellence and innovation in mathematics education, and the Thérèse Casgrain Prize, for lifelong commitment, was recently awarded to him . His achievements prove to us that the commitment of the researcher is a powerful engine of change for society.


The human part of the equation

Too often, in the name of rigor or simply due to lack of time, we choose not to talk about the human beings behind important developments in mathematical theory or to explain what led them to the theorems they worked on. In doing so, we fail to capture the excitement involved in discovering new mathematical concepts. We also miss an opportunity to reach out to young students who might otherwise have been attracted to math and find pleasure in exploring the fascinating world of mathematical sciences. Investigating the life of mathematicians will often help one understand why they succeeded where others failed. In this presentation, we will examine how math education and math outreach could benefit from a more people-oriented approach. We will also point out various international activities in math education and math outreach which have proved successful.

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