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About Michael Moody

Michael Moody, Former Chair of the Department of Mathematics Michael Moody, former professor of mathematics and chair of the Department of Mathematics at HMC was a cherished friend, mentor, and inspiration to the Department of Mathematics.

Moody came to the college in 1994 as a visiting professor of mathematics from Washington State University, where he was an associate professor of mathematics. In 1996, he became HMC's first Diana and Kenneth Jonsson Professor and, that same year, was named chair of the Department of Mathematics.

During his time as department chair, from 1996 through 2002, the department hired eight new professors bringing the total number of mathematics faculty to 12. Moody wanted people who would mesmerize and inspire students in the classroom and have a passion for their mathematical work, giving the department what he called an “animating goal”: To be recognized as one the very best undergraduate programs in the country.

In response, the department revised the core curriculum, rejuvenated the senior-thesis program and tripled the number of majors. Moody founded an evening lecture series that brought speakers to the college that illuminated the joy, mystery and applicability of mathematics and that typically attracted hundreds of students. The department credits Moody as the guiding force leading to the reception of the inaugural American Mathematical Society award for an Exemplary Program or Achievement in a Mathematics Department. HMC was singled out for this honor from all of the undergraduate and graduate mathematics departments in the United States.

Moody received his B.A. degree from the University of California at San Diego in 1975, with a double major in mathematics and chemical physics, and a double minor in history and philosophy. Pursuing an interest in biological systems at the University of Chicago, he finished an applied mathematics thesis in population genetics in 1979. Following graduate school, he spent two years as a USPHS post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In 1981, he joined the faculty at Washington State University, with a joint appointment between the Department of Pure and Applied Mathematics and the Department of Genetics and Cell Biology. He received a Fulbright Fellowship for research at the Institute for Mathematics at the University of Vienna from 1990–1991. He worked at HMC from 1994 to 2001, then helped establish the programs and curriculum at Olin College, which opened in fall 2002. At the time of his death on January 21, 2010, Moody was vice president for academic affairs and founding dean of faculty at Olin College in Massachusetts.

Moody's research in biomathematics focused on genetic models for evolving populations. His developmental work in teaching concentrated on designing and implementing curricular models and technological tools to improve mathematics education for engineers and scientists. He was co-designer and developer of the award-winning multimedia ODE Architect software program for teaching and solving ordinary differential equations. He also published two books for integrating technology into the calculus curriculum through laboratory experiments and gave numerous talks and workshops at national meetings on these topics. Much of his work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.

(Based in part on the obituary written by Judy Augsburger for the HMC website.).