Dr. Chris Christensen named 2012 Frank Sinton Milburn Outstanding Professor
News from NKU…
For immediate release…
Friday – August 17, 2012
Dr. Chris Christensen Named 2012
Frank Sinton Milburn Outstanding Professor
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Northern Kentucky University announced today that Dr. Chris Christensen, a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, has been named the university’s 2012 Frank Sinton Milburn Outstanding Professor.
Dr. Christensen is an award-winning teacher and scholar who continues to find new and engaging ways to “teach through problems” in calculus and cryptology after 28 years in the classroom at NKU. His teaching style and new research directions it inspires have made him a favorite among students, a model for his colleagues and an established expert in mathematics and cryptology for scholars across the United States.
What connects them all is a passion for helping students succeed in a field that many find challenging and confusing.
Dr. Christensen earned master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics at Purdue University after completing his baccalaureate degree at Michigan Technological Institute. He taught at Purdue and the University of Kansas before joining the NKU faculty in 1983.
During his tenure at NKU, Dr. Christensen has taught 28 undergraduate courses, several of which he created. He also has taught seven graduate courses, an Honors class and two study abroad courses. Beyond the classroom, he has directed more than 25 independent studies, two honors theses and two capstone projects. Dr. Christensen’s research interests include algebraic geometry, Galois theory and theory of equations, and the relationship between mathematics and cryptology (study of secure communication such as codes).
NKU and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) have recognized his excellence in the classroom in recent years. He won the 2007 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching by the Kentucky Section of the MAA, and he received the 2008 Faculty Excellence Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching at NKU. He has served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Mathematical Association of America since 2011.
A year after winning the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) teaching award for the Kentucky section, Dr. Christensen received one of the national organization’s highest honors for expository writing. He won the Carl B. Allendoerfer Award for an article titled “Polish Mathematicians Finding Patterns in Enigma Messages,” which appeared in Mathematics Magazine in October 2007. He also won MAA’s 1996 George Polya Award for his article “Newton’s method for resolving affected equations” in the November 1996 issue of the College Mathematics Journal.
Perhaps most impressive about Dr. Christensen’s teaching and scholarship is how much students fit into the equation. His students’ work has resulted in dozens of presentations and several publications in prestigious journals over the years, many of them first-author publications. In fact, NKU student papers swept the awards sponsored by the journal Cryptologia in 2007. Nick Hoffman won the 2007 Outstanding Paper Award and Alex Kuhl received the Greg Mellen Memorial Scholarship for another article in the journal.
Dr. Christensen has become a “national resource” on cryptology and the teaching of cryptology, according to his academic department chair. He has served on the editorial board of Cryptologia since 2008. He has been invited to give a seminar on next week at the U.S. Naval Academy on the breaking of Japanese cypher.
His work with students extends beyond NKU’s campus. Dr. Christensen collaborated with Dr. Jintai Ding of the University of Cincinnati on a $150,000 National Science Foundation grant to conduct a Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates in Cryptology for three summers. As a result, he mentored students from around the country in sophisticated research projects in cryptology.
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