Annalisa Crannell is the Bonchek House don and professor of mathematics. In January, Crannell received the Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics from the Mathematical Association of America and delivered a speech about teaching titled “(Speaking in favor of) Redundancy, Inefficiency, Extravagance, and Waste.”
How did you come to math as a profession?
Both of my parents are physicists, and I grew up saying things like “per unit time.” That’s got to count for something. I had excellent and enthusiastic mathematics teachers in high school and college. I became a mathematician partly because I loved the subject and partly because I loved the people who do math.
What was your path to F&M?
I first heard of F&M when I was in high school. My mom (who did solar astrophysics at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) had a summer intern from F&M who was very smart and had a great experience here. When I got my Ph.D., I started looking for a job at a small liberal arts college on the East Coast, and F&M soon rose to the top of my list. Fortunately for me, I was near the top of their list!
In 20 words or fewer, describe your teaching philosophy.
Someday these clueless kids are going to write research papers with me, so make them start thinking hard now.
What was your reaction when asked to be a don?
What is your favorite part of being a don?
Am I allowed three? (1) The chance to really, truly be a liberal arts professor, to work with colleagues and attend lectures on every conceivable subject. This is my idea of luxury. (2) Working with a huge variety of bright and dedicated students. I see so much more of their lives, and I’m incredibly impressed. I see where they volunteer, how they mentor younger students, how hard they work with their clubs. (3) My prefect, David Stameshkin.
You are notorious for your frugality. What purchase are you most proud of?
Usually, I’m most proud of NOT buying things. I love “making do” by using creative substitutes (I once braided a rug from my friends’ used jeans.) I also love to scrounge things. People just give me stuff they don’t want, because they know it makes me happy to see things get used instead of going into landfills.
Do you splurge on anything?
I try to give a lot of money to charity. That’s one area where I try hard to spend more. That doesn’t sound like splurging, but it is. Since I can get almost anything I want or need, the only way to have more fun without filling the house with junk is to be a part of making other people happy.
Oh, yeah, and I’m a sucker for expensive dinners at posh restaurants.
Tell us something people might not know about you.
Honestly, I talk about myself so much that I don’t think there’s anything about me people don’t know.