The Curtis Center works to provide an increasing number of U.S K-12 students with access to rigorous and engaging mathematical activity.
What We Do
- Develop pedagogical content knowledge of undergraduates preparing for careers in K-12 mathematics education
- Provide opportunities for K-12 mathematics teachers to grow their mathematical knowledge and apply it to the work of teaching
- Develop curriculum and assessments designed to engage students in creative reasoning and meaningful application of mathematics
- Help students and districts develop equitable and humane standards-aligned mathematics course sequences and syllabi
The Curtis Center is one of a few K-12 mathematics groups housed in a Tier 1 mathematics research department. Our Directors and Specialists are academic appointees of the UCLA Mathematics Department and we believe efforts to improve K-12 mathematics activity benefit from authentic collaboration between K-12 and university mathematics experts. In our collaborations, K-12 mathematics experts help focus efforts on the mathematical issues most relevant to K-12 mathematics departments and provide professional knowledge of pedagogy and K-12 students while university mathematics experts often increase mathematical precision, highlight the mathematical horizon, and/or suggest mathematically interesting questions.
Who We Are
Director of K-8 Professional Development
Director Chan has nearly three decades of experience in K-16 mathematics education, including more than a decade with the UCLA Mathematics Department. She is an experienced practitioner in Southeast and Southwest Los Angeles schools and has taught mathematics courses for future elementary and middle school teachers and courses for current elementary school teachers within the UCLA Mathematics Department. She is a published National Council of Teachers of Mathematics author and has authored numerous mathematics lessons and courses for current teachers. She is the author of Smarter Balanced Performance Tasks and Evidenced Based Selected Response Tasks for use on summative statewide assessments across more than 34 U.S. States. Chan is also a 2019 Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Sarah D. Barder Fellow.
Heather Dallas has over 30 years of mathematics teaching experience, including 12 in local public schools and more than 20 in the Mathematics Department at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). As a public school teacher, Heather co-developed a specialized Algebra course for students previously excluded from Algebra and helped significantly increase student access to and success in AP BC Calculus. During this time, she taught and developed mathematics curriculum for the professional development efforts of both the California Math Project and the UCLA Mathematics Department. She served as the UCLA Mathematics Department Visiting High School Teacher in 2000-2001, after which the Department invited her to continue teaching as a lecturer. In this role, she has trained over 20 cohorts of senior mathematics majors to be secondary mathematics teachers
In 2007, the UCLA Mathematics Department invited her to serve as Executive Director of their newly established Curtis Center for Mathematics and Teaching. In this role, she has led numerous projects with districts and industry partners aimed at improving the quality of mathematics activity in K-12 schools. She served as PI on two California Math Science Partnership grants and directed four Smarter Balanced Mathematics Task Development Projects. In 2020, she was awarded $1.1M by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and implement an Applied Mathematics Mentorship Program to increase student success in mathematics in three South Los Angeles schools.
Heather served on the 2010 California Academic Content Standards Committee, the 2012 California Framework Committee, the 2013 United States Department of Education’s Race to the Top Technical Review. She currently serves on the Oregon Technical Advisory Committee. She is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher and winner of the UCLA Mathematics Department’s 2023 Sorgenfrey Distinguished Teaching Award which honors faculty for excellence in teaching. She is the daughter and grandaughter of teachers, with her father being the first LAUSD mathematics teacher to incorporate computers into the mathematics classroom.
Saranna is a second-year Statistics and Data Science major passionate about public health and healthcare. At The Curtis Center, she supports the team by completing projects that allow for increased ease of access and a more efficient workflow. This includes cleaning and maintaining accurate electronic records, creating and distributing financial reports, and preparing materials for professional development sessions.
Secondary Mathematics Specialist
Isai Lopez is an experienced practitioner in East Los Angeles schools and currently provides mathematical and pedagogical training to mathematics teachers across California. Isai is an author, editor, trainer, and instructional coach for AMMP and has authored Smarter Balanced Performance Evidenced Based Selected Response tasks for use on summative statewide mathematics assessments across more than 14 U.S. States. He regularly gives invited talks in the UCLA Mathematics Department’s Mathematics 73 and 105 courses and serves as an advisor for Math for LA students completing their pedagogical competence assessment for their California Secondary Teaching Credential in Mathematics. Additionally, Isai provides national and statewide leadership in mathematics education, giving talks at statewide and national conferences.
Secondary Mathematics Specialist
Eden Murphy holds a Master of Arts in Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics. Her practitioner experience includes ten years of mathematics teaching and coaching in the Apple Valley Unified School District, during which time she worked to create an equitable and accessible pathway to Calculus, while also becoming a leader in instruction that centers around student inquiry of mathematics by means of modeling and proof. Currently, Eden provides mathematical and pedagogical training to mathematics teachers across California, in addition to authoring mathematics performance tasks as part of the Center’s partnership with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Eden has particular expertise around best practices for online instruction as well as appropriate use of educational technologies in the mathematics classroom.
Program and Fund Manager
Kristina Petruff holds a degree in economics and has several years of experience in administration in higher education. As The Curtis Center Program and Fund Manager, she identifies opportunities for improvement and growth by tracking and managing data for external and internal audits, manages all financial accounts, and oversees the programmatic and business operations of the Center.
Samar Sattar is a sophomore at UCLA, studying Business Economics. She is passionate about market trends and finance and hopes to work in investment banking in the future. At The Curtis Center, she supports the programmatic and financial work necessary to help with multiple projects and programs in local schools, districts, national educational organizations.
Michelle Sidwell earned a B.S. in Mathematics/Economics and a Masters of Education during her time at UCLA. During this time, she also engaged in mathematical research in the prestigious RIPS program at the UCLA Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics. Upon graduation, Michelle taught mathematics at Crenshaw High School for six years. In this role, Michelle developed much of her own curriculum and significantly expanded student access to and success in AP Calculus and AP Statistics.
At The Curtis Center, Michelle has taught mathematics courses and professional development institutes for current teachers and authored curriculum for the mathematical training of teachers, including an 80-hour inquiry-based Geometry course. She served on the Project Leadership of BRIDGES, a California Math Science Partnership with Glendale Unified School District. In addition, she served as the High School Grade Band Leader for the 2015-2017 Smarter Balanced Performance Task Project, authoring and editing assessment items for use in summative statewide assessments used across 21 US States. Recently, she oversaw the development of 13 Geometry lessons which benefited from the use of magnetic polygonal tools, called Magformers, as concrete models.
Director of Special Projects
Michelle Welford holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, a Master’s in Education and is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. She taught high school mathematics for 10 years during which time she wrote her own Geometry and AP Statistics curriculum. Her efforts significantly improved student access to success on the AP Statistics exam, with pass rates increasing from 20% to 94% after she took over the program. Michelle followed these successes by serving for five years as an instructional coach at University High School for the Los Angeles Unified School District during which time she also wrote professional development curriculum in geometry for the UCLA Mathematics Department.
Michelle’s work for The UCLA Curtis Center, draws on her extensive knowledge of mathematics, pedagogy, Common Core State Standards, incorporation of technology, teamwork/collaboration with others, meticulous attention to detail, and time management. Michelle Welford was Co-Director of the 2015-2017 Smarter Balanced Performance Task Project during which time she was pivotal in the development of 168 mathematical modeling tasks used in summative assessments across 21 US States.
Pomona College Mathematics and Statistics Professor
Edray Herber Goins grew up in South Los Angeles, California. The product of the Los Angeles Unified (LAUSD) public school system, He attended the California Institute of Technology, where he majored in mathematics and physics, and earned his doctorate in mathematics from Stanford University.
He has held positions at the world’s premiere research institutions, including the National Security Agency in Ft. Meade, Maryland; the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California; the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey; the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, Germany; Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. In January 2004 he was featured in Black Issues in Higher Education as one of the “2004 Emerging Scholars of the Year.” From 2004-2018, Dr. Goins was a professor of mathematics at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Prof. Goins spends most of his summers engaging underrepresented students in research in the mathematical sciences. He has taught mathematics and physics in the Freshman Summer Institute (FSI) at Caltech; and led research seminars in number theory in the Summer Undergraduate Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (SUMSRI) at Miami University as well as the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Undergraduate Program (MSRI-UP) in Berkeley, California. He currently runs an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) titled “Pomona Research in Mathematics Experience (PRiME).” Prof. Goins is interested in (1) Selmer groups for elliptic curves using class groups of number fields, (2) Belyi maps and Dessins d’Enfants, (3) origami as branched covers of elliptic curves, and (4) Galois groups, monodromy groups, and etale fundamental groups. He maintains his own blog about Dessins d’Enfants.
He is also the lead for updating the Mathematicians of the African Diaspora database (also known as the MAD Pages), a resource dedicated to promoting and highlighting the contributions of members of the African diaspora to mathematics, especially contributions to current mathematical research.
UCLA Mathematics Professor
Professor Marcus Roper received his Ph. D. in mathematics from Harvard University and joined the UCLA Mathematics Department in 2011. In addition to teaching mathematics, he conducts research in mathematical problems coming from physics and biology. He is particularly interested in fungal mycelia, the microvascular system and design and optimization of inertial microfluidic devices.
Marcus has collaborated with The Curtis Center by editing mathematics and physical science lessons written by teachers in the Center’s California Math Science Partnership Grant with Glendale Unified, editing K-12 lessons written for use with Magformers, a magnetic polygons used as concrete models in instruction, as well as speaking to teachers about current mathematical research. In addition, Marcus supports the development of future teachers by serving as the advisor to undergraduate math majors studying to be future high school teachers as they engage in summer research in applied mathematics.
Harvey Mudd College Mathematics Professor
Francis Edward Su is the Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and a former president of the Mathematical Association of America. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. His research is in geometric combinatorics and applications to the social sciences and he has co-authored numerous papers with undergraduates. He also has a passion for teaching and popularizing mathematics. From the Mathematical Association of America, he received the 2013 Haimo Award for distinguished teaching and the 2018 Halmos-Ford Award for his writing. His work has been featured in Quanta Magazine, Wired, and The New York Times. His book Mathematics for Human Flourishing (Yale University Press, 2020) won the 2021 Euler Book Prize. It is an inclusive vision of what math is, who it’s for, and why anyone should learn it.
The University of Texas Mathematics Professor
Uri Treisman is University Distinguished Teaching Professor, professor of mathematics, and professor of public affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. In 1987, he founded the Charles A. Dana Center—a research unit of the University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Sciences—and served as its executive director through June 1, 2023. He is a proud alumnus of UCLA’s mathematics department where he earned his baccalaureate degree in 1970, earning the department’s Sherwood Prize for outstanding achievement and exceptional performance in mathematics at the undergraduate level.
Uri is best known as a designer of educational programs that promote high achievement among students from groups historically underrepresented in mathematics-based professions. For this work, he received a MacArthur Fellowship (1992–1997). For his work in supporting K–12 mathematics education leaders, Uri received the Ross Taylor/Glenn Gilbert National Leadership Award from the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (2016). For his work in strengthening undergraduate math education, he received the Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics from Mathematical Association of America (2019). For his innovations in education policy, he received the 2020 James Bryant Conant Award from the Education Commission of the States.
Uri served as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Education Commission of the States from 2013–2021. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the International Society for Design and Development in Education. He was named the Harvard Foundation’s 2006 Scientist of the Year for his leadership work in American mathematics education. Uri continues his work on equity-minded reform of mathematics education at scale. Uri is proud to serve as a member of The Curtis Center’s Advisory Board.
Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC), Georgia Tech
Marion has been at Georgia Tech since 1996 and serves as the CEISMC Associate Director for Development and Educational Innovation and as a Principal Research Scientist. She originated in California and received a B.A. in Physics/Biophysics from the University of California, San Diego. After earning a Ph.D. in Biophysics from the Johns Hopkins University, she chose to leave bench science and pursue interests in promoting science education at all levels, first at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, then at Georgia Tech. Marion relishes developing partnerships with interested educators and academics in all fields to help promote in K-12 schools the same curiosity and love of learning inherent at universities.
Retired Mathematics Educator
Barbara Griggs Wells received a B.S. in mathematics from Howard University and spent 30 years teaching mathematics in the District of Columbia and California public schools—evenly divided between junior and senior high school settings. She received a Ph.D. in education from UCLA with a specialty in administration, curriculum and teaching studies emphasizing mathematics. During this time she also served as a member of the mathematics content group for the TIMMS video study. She was a member of the clinical faculty of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA where she coordinated the preservice teacher education of secondary mathematics teachers and provided professional development that emphasized the use of writing to learn mathematics. Her active participation in the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project led to her service as the UCLA site director and California school liaison coordinator as a mathematics department faculty member.
Professor Emeritus Phil Curtis
For decades, the UCLA Mathematics Department has been involved in the entire spectrum of mathematical activity, from K-12 to university to career. The department’s involvement at the pre-collegiate level was significantly shaped by Professor Emeritus Phil Curtis over a fifty-year period. While producing pioneering and internationally recognized work in Banach Algebras, Professor Curtis served twice as Department Chair and advocated for departmental involvement in K-12 mathematics activity. Over his many years of service, he worked to establish six programs supporting K-12 mathematics activity including the statewide UC/CSU California Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project, the UCLA Visiting High School Teacher Program and the UCLA Joint Mathematics Education Program, the UCLA Mathematics Project, the UCLA Math Content Program for Teachers, and a program which prepared K-12 students for competitive mathematics exams. To formalize these efforts, in 2007, Department Chair Christoph Theile and mathematics professor Theodore Gamelin, established The Philip C. Curtis Jr. Center for Mathematics and Teaching.