Spending her career as a teacher at various universities including University of Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Purdue University as well as a researcher in commutative algebra Dr. Sylvia Wiegand has been a staunch advocate for women in mathematics.
Born in Cape Town, South Africa she moved to the United States in 1949 where her interest in mathematics developed as she sought to solve puzzles put before her by mathematician father. She earned a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin in 1972, and her thesis entitled “Galois Theory of Essential Expansion of Modules and Vanishing Tensor Powers” served as parts of her first published paper. Wiegand has served as editor on two books and has published over fifty papers, seven co-authored with her husband, Roger, who works in the same field.
In 2005 in honor of the work of both Wiegands the University of Nebraska hosted the Nebraska Commutative Algebra Conference: WiegandFest. This wasn’t the first time she has received praise for her work, in 2000 she was presented with the University of Nebraska Outstanding Contribution to the Status of Women award due to her many efforts to promote mathematics to women including making the field more welcoming. In the late 1980s she headed a search committee at University of Nebraska to bring more female professors to the math department, successfully filling two positions. The department also started the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in mathematics which held its 18th annual conference this year.
During her term as the president of the Association for Women in Mathematics she was involved in promotion efforts of math and science issues on Capitol Hill and an advocate for more federal support for education and research in both fields. Elected as a fellow of the American Mathematical society in 2012 she continues her work with another book in the works as well as serving as a professor emeriti at University of Nebraska.
Written by Angela Goad