By Brianna Gleghorn
A mathematics professor at Youngstown State University was acknowledged and honored at a national level for her hard work and dedication in and outside of the classroom.
Alicia Prieto Langarica, associate professor in the department of mathematics and statistics, received the Henry L. Alder Award for her willingness to go above and beyond for her students.
The Mathematical Association of America honors three undergraduate mathematics professors each year for displaying exceptional teaching services to their students.
Prieto Langarica said she felt honored to receive the award and gain recognition on a national platform.
“I was lucky to get it this year with a professor from Williams College and a professor from Lamar University in Texas,” Prieto Langarica said. “I’m really honored that my students here and a professor at a university in California nominated me, and I’m very honored that I got the award.”
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics, Prieto Langarica attended the University of Texas at Arlington for her doctorate in applied mathematics. She started her career at YSU as an assistant professor in 2012.
Prieto Langarica said she specializes in combining biology and mathematics into her research, along with social sciences and mathematical studies.
“What I like to do is to look for problems that are interesting to me,” Prieto Langarica said. “Those are mainly in biology or in public policy. Then I find ways to study them or try to investigate them with mathematics. I love when I can do that with my students.”
According to Prieto Langarica, her favorite aspect of YSU is watching the snowfall during the winter and, more importantly, teaching and watching her students grow.
“[At YSU] students are open and they feel so lucky to be here, and I feel lucky with them to be here,” Prieto Langarica said. “They’re always willing to go the extra mile to work hard, and I feel like that work ethic and that enthusiasm for learning, it’s hard to find in other places.”
Along with her own focus on research, Prieto Langarica is known for encouraging students to participate in research and at one point mentored 25 students in one semester.
To check in with her undergraduate researchers, Prieto Langarica takes the time to go on walks with each student around campus.
Her students collaborated with the city of Youngstown on the demolition of buildings and pushed for the construction of a new parking structure through research projects in her class.
Julie Phillis, a senior math and environmental studies major, said she never had Prieto Langarica in class as a professor but was an office worker in the mathematics department her freshman year.
“I had been working in the math office for about a month when she approached me and asked why I wasn’t doing research with her, as if I obviously should have been,” Phillis said.
Phillis was given the opportunity to present her research, along with two other students, at the national Mathematical Association of America MathFest.
Phillis said she gives all the credit to Prieto Langarica, as she supplied her with the tools to do the research and mentored her through the experience.
“My college experience would have been drastically different had Dr. Prieto not taken me under her wing,” Phillis said. “She embodies everything good there is to be in a human, and I will tell anyone who will listen what an incredible individual, professor, mentor and friend she has been to me.”
Keywords: Math, Statistics, Alicia Prieto Langarica, national award, Henry L. Alder Award