My Winthrop Experience

Name: Kristen Abernathy
Position: Associate professor of mathematics
College: Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Mathematics

Kristen Abernathy juggles her time at Winthrop in three areas: teaching, mentoring and recruiting.

With only six years of teaching experience, she is considered an exceptionally talented faculty member. She joined the Winthrop faculty in 2011 and has already captured two teaching awards - the Mathematical Association of America Southeastern Section's Beginning Teaching Award in 2015 and Winthrop's Outstanding Junior Professor in 2016.

At Winthrop, she teaches a wide range of courses from introductory level and general education courses to advanced courses in undergraduate mathematical research. Her courses focus on applications of mathematics in the real world. In observing a course where students worked on projects directly from local industries, department chair Tom Polaski said, "Her enthusiastic, ˜cando' attitude that I have watched in her lectures comes through even more strongly in her encouragement of these research students."

Equally committed to student intellectual development outside of the classroom, Abernathy has mentored 16 undergraduate research projects and encourages students to share their work at regional and national mathematics conferences. Several of her students have won conference awards for outstanding presentations, been awarded positions at externally funded research programs, and entered graduate programs for mathematics.

Abernathy attributes much of her success in undergraduate research to her colleagues in the department: "When I first arrived at Winthrop, the mathematics department was just beginning their undergraduate research endeavors. The thought of working with undergraduates was intimidating, but now it's one of my favorite parts of my job. Working with undergraduates has significantly shaped my research program, and helped me work in an area of mathematics I'm truly passionate about."

A scholar in her own right, Abernathy devotes considerable time to her research in cancer modeling and functional analysis. In her functional analysis work, she establishes solvability conditions for families of dynamical systems. She also uses her knowledge of dynamical systems to better understand the Cancer Stem Cell Hypothesis in her cancer modeling.

To help recruit students to Winthrop and to showcase the mathematics department, Abernathy has helped with the department's successful Sonia Kovalevsky Day, which is an outreach program designed to spark interest in mathematics in middle school girls. Abernathy also is a MAA Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) fellow, an undergraduate mentor for the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences, and co-director of MAA-SE's Section NExT program.

Abernathy earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Catawba College, a master's degree in mathematics from Wake Forest University, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from North Carolina State University.