You are here

Pólya Lectureship

George Pólya embodied the high quality of exposition which the Mathematical Association of America seeks to encourage. To further this goal, the Board of Governors of the Association established the George Pólya Lectureship. This Lectureship will be held by an individual representing the high expository standards set by George Pólya. A new Pólya Lecturer will be appointed every year, with a term of two academic years. The first year of the term overlaps the term of the previous Pólya Lecturer and the second year overlaps the term of the next Pólya Lecturer.

Each Section is eligible to have a Pólya Lecturer speak at one of its meetings once every five academic years on a rotating basis, with all travel expenses borne by the Association. Thus, if a Section is eligible during the 2016-2017 academic year, for example, they must host the Lecturer during either the Fall 2016 or Spring 2017.

Each year, the Pólya lecturers will be notified as to which sections are eligible for a visit during that year. Sections should contact the lecturer directly to coordinate a visit.

Section Eligibility for the Pólya Lectureship:


Allegheny Mountain
New Jersey


Metro New York
North Central
Pacific Northwest


Rocky Mountain




Nebraska/SE South Dakota


Allegheny Mountain
New Jersey

It is customary for the section to waive any registration, banquet and social fees for the lecturer. The Pólya Lecturer will pay his/her own travel expenses and will be reimbursed by the Association. Should, by accident, a section invite two Pólya speakers, it will be asked to reimburse the Association for the more expensive trip.

Each section is asked to be a thoughtful host. In the crush of meeting details and the distribution of duties amongst section officers and local arrangements faculty, it is sometimes easy for responsibilities to fall through the cracks. Please be sure to consider your visitors' arrangements for travel, lodging, meals, local transportation and registration. In the days of "Saturday night stay overs", it is especially cordial that the section considers Saturday evening dining arrangements. At least give visiting speakers options ("a ride would be great" or "I'll catch a cab") for airport pickups, get-togethers at meals, etc. Be sure to communicate fully about the schedule of events at your meeting.


2017 - 2018 Pólya Lecturers

Carlos Castillo-Chavez is a mathematical epidemiologist and a Regents Professor of Mathematical Biology at Arizona State University. He has won awards by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mentor Award and Fellow (2007),the Stanislaw M. Ulam Distinguished Scholar by the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory (2003), the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Distinguished Scientist Award (2001), the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (1997), and the Presidential Faculty Fellowship Award from the National Science Foundation and the Office of the President of the United States (1992–1997). Carlos served from 2010-2015 on President Barak Obama’s national medal of science committee and is a fellow of SIAM, AMS and AAAS Carlos is the executive director of the Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute and the Institute for Strengthening the Understanding of Mathematics and Science as well as the founding director of the Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center at ASU. He previously taught at Cornell for 18 years.

Ken Ono is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Emory University. His research interests are combinatorics and number theory. Ken is a great mentor and on his website, he says "I am actively involved in the mentoring young mathematicians of all ages". Ken is very successful mathematician who has been extremely active, through his REU, in involving undergraduates in high level mathematics. He is also an excellent speaker, who works hard to make his talks understandable and interesting to a wide audience of mathematicians. He has won numerous fellowships and awards, both for his research and teaching.

2018 - 2019 Pólya Lecturers

Kristin Lauter is a Principal Researcher and Research Manager for the Cryptography group at Microsoft Research. Her research focuses on post-quantum cryptography, algorithmic number theory, elliptic curve, pairing-based, and lattice-based cryptography, homomorphic encryption, and cloud security and privacy, including privacy for healthcare. Her work has been featured in the press in articles in Science, Nature, American Scientist, and PNAS. She has published over 75 research articles and 5 books, her work appearing in venues ranging from the American Journal of Mathematics to the Journal of Biomedical Informatics and the Proceedings of CRYPTO and EUROCRYPT. Lauter has served the mathematical community as President of the Association for Women in Mathematics, and on the Council of the American Mathematical Society. She is a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society and the Association for Women in Mathematics. She was a co-founder of the Women In Numbers Network, a research collaboration community for women in number theory, and she serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for BIRS, the Banff International Research Station. Lauter is also an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Washington. In 2008, Lauter, together with her coauthors, was awarded the Selfridge Prize in Computational Number Theory. She loves to engage audience with accessible lectures highlighting the importance of mathematics in society.

View the list of past Pólya Lecturers


Questions about Sections? | email Programs and Services at