Dr. Sarah Greenwald

Mathematical Morsels from The Simpsons and Futurama

Large photo of Dr. Sarah Greenwald

Sarah J. Greenwald is Professor of Mathematics and a Women's Studies core faculty member at Appalachian State University. She received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Her scholarship areas include Riemannian geometry, popular culture as it pertains to mathematics, and women and minorities in mathematics, and she is a 2005 Mathematical Association of America Alder Award winner for distinguished teaching and the winner of the 2010 Appalachian State University Wayne D. Duncan Award for Excellence in Teaching in General Education. In 2010 she was also inducted into the Appalachian State University College of Arts and Sciences Academy of Outstanding Teachers and in 2011 she was named the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She is the associate editor of the Association for Women in Mathematics Newsletter and a member of the editorial board of PRIMUS.

Greenwald co-created the educational website SimpsonsMath.com with Andrew Nestler. While it is not affiliated with the show, the site was mentioned in the audio commentary of the 7th season of The Simpsons. Her interactive mathematics lecture has been distributed on approximately one million DVDs worldwide as a 25-minute DVD extra for the 20th Century Fox Futurama movie Bender's Big Score and it is listed as "Mind-bending." She co-edited the 3-volumeEncyclopedia of Mathematics & Society with Jill Thomley, which was named a "Best Reference 2011" by Library Journal. Dr. Greenwald has spoken about the impacts of scientific popular culture representations on NPR's Science Friday and all over the country.

Presentation Abstract:
Mathematics is pervasive in modern society, and on some level we all use mathematics in our daily lives. Have you ever known anyone who asserted that they do not have the "math gene"? Where do those messages come from? Popular culture can reveal, reflect, and even shape how society views mathematics, and we'll give some favorite examples from a variety of shows, including the Simpsons and Futurama, which contain hundreds of humorous mathematical and scientific references. At the same time we’ll reflect more broadly upon what mathematics is, what it has to offer, and the diverse ways that people can succeed in and impact it, including you!

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