Alex Capaldi, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics, is one of three people nationwide to win a 2016 Award for Excellence in Mentoring from the Mathematics and Computer Sciences division of the Council on Undergraduate Research. Professor Capaldi’s award is for excellence as an early-career mentor.
The CUR mentoring awards recognize faculty whose mentoring provides thoughtful professional development opportunities for students and whose efforts have a growing impact within the mathematics community. Between his time in graduate school and his time on the Valpo faculty, Professor Capaldi has mentored 32 undergraduate students on various projects, often at the intersection of mathematics and biology. Four of his team’s projects have been published in refereed journals. Professor Capaldi is also co-PI for Valpo’s most recent National Science Foundation grant to support the summer Valparaiso Experience in Research by Undergraduate Mathematicians program, which selects students for a first mathematics research experience from a national pool.
Of his mentoring style, one of his former students writes “At first I was upset that he knew the answer and never just gave it to me, but now I realize that I learned so much from working my way through the problem. This taught me how to push through frustration and confusion during the research process, an ability vital to becoming a mathematician.”
In his nomination, a senior colleague wrote, “I believe Prof. Capaldi is one of the few young faculty who has the potential, talent, skills, and will to become a future leader of mathematics undergraduate research at the national level.”
Professor Capaldi is the third Valparaiso mathematics faculty member to receive a CUR mentoring award in four years, following Daniel Maxin in 2014 and Lara Pudwell in 2013.