Mathematics is more than mere numbers for Eric Dyreson.
“We teach math as a philosophy, not as a disparate collection of symbolic tools,” Dyreson asserts. “We want our courses to transform the way students see the world.”
Math certainly changed the way Dyreson sees the world. He turned a childhood fascination with insects into a life of learning and teaching mathematics and biology, which are two fields he believes are infinitely intertwined. Dyreson calls this “working at the intersection of disciplines.”
Dyreson started his impressive educational journey at the New College of Florida where he earned a B.A. in mathematics. He then received his graduate degree in mathematical biology from the University of Arizona. He performed post-doctoral research at Princeton focusing on molecular biology and mathematics and then at Notre Dame.
Learning is dependent on how much time you spend thinking. We help our students see the whole picture.
In addition to biomathematics, Dyreson has worked with and taught biostatistics, morphometrics, paleobiology, chemical ecology, plant ecology and evolution. His work often took him into the field including work in the Caribbean studying the ecology and genetics of fruit flies.
Dyreson eventually taught at Green Mountain College in Vermont. Following a desire to teach at a small school and come back West, Dyreson then found himself at Montana Western in 2002. He came during the pilot testing period for Experience One. Today, he has one word for X1: “fantastic.”
“Because the block allows students to focus without distractions, learning mathematics becomes more natural, like learning a language,” Dyreson says.
Dyreson’s students have used that language to study the structure of snowflakes. They used math to map biological worlds from the molecular level all the way up to whole ecosystems. One of his students even mapped the formation of a Hawaiian volcano.
“In math, we take experiential work seriously,” Dyreson says. “The block facilitates that.”
From working across disciplines to studying math in the real world, Dyreson’s students can’t help but emerge from his classes with a new view of the world.
“Learning is dependent on how much time you spend thinking,” he explains. “We help our students see the whole picture.”