- Graduate Students
Began: Fall 2010
Research interests: Examining the connections between students’ informal, contextual mathematical knowledge and school mathematics, with the purpose of informing how to facilitate students’ learning of school mathematics, in particular algebra; studying Developmental Mathematics programs at the Community College and University, with an emphasis on examining the nature of mathematical engagement in those programs; mathematics in the workplace; and mathematics curriculum development and research.
Jen Nimtz was admitted to the Program in Mathematics Education in the Fall of 2010. She has developed multiple research interests during that time—most notably, “the connections between students’ informal, contextual mathematical knowledge and school mathematics, with the purpose of informing how to facilitate students’ learning of school mathematics” and “mathematics in the workplace”.
Although Jen was raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, she moved to Lansing roughly 25 years ago, making her a Lansing native at heart. After high school, Jen attended Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselear, Indiana where she received a BS in Mathematics, and a Minor in Secondary Education. Jen also has a Master of Science degree in Mathematics Education from California State University, Chico.
Before joining PRIME, Jen worked for multiple organizations in various fields, including: Director of the Jackson County Mathematics and Science Center, an Adjunct Mathematics Instructor at Lansing Community College, and a Designer for an Engineering firm. It was her conversations with her fellow designers that initially interested Jen in pursuing a PhD. Often times, Jen says, the designers would say that “they did not become engineers because they could not ‘do math,’” yet, Jen would point out that they had been doing math all day, every day for their jobs. These experiences led Jen to believe that “as mathematics educators we need to provide better support for students to make connections between their informal understandings of mathematics and academic mathematics.”
Eventually, Jen made the move to PRIME at MSU to study Mathematics Education. Even though Jen changed positions from being a full-time professional to a full-time student, her workload did not diminish. Jen has also held positions while a student at MSU including: Graduate Assistant for the Connected Mathematics Project and Teaching Assistant in Teacher Education. Jen also has volunteered as the Graduate Student Representative on the Michigan Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (MI-AMTE) and is serving on the Finance Committee for MI-AMTE.
When Jen is not working, she enjoys “taking long walks in the woods or along the shore of Lake Michigan” with her spouse, Miriam, and their dog Cocoa. Jen also enjoys kayaking, biking, and spending time in nature. Jen’s favorite activity is to watch the Gray Whale migration along the Pacific Coast. Jen was able to see hundreds of Gray Whales migrate in California a few years ago, and says it was breath-taking. Jen went back to the West Coast over Spring Break 2016, this time in Washington, to see the Gray Whale migration. It was gorgeous, but she did not have as much luck seeing whales this time.
Jen’s academic goals for her remaining time at PRIME include completing her dissertation, continue participating in the “outstanding mathematics education community here at MSU,” and to “continue [learning] as much as possible about mathematics education.” Upon her graduation from PRIME, Jen is flexible in her future career path. Some options she is considering include: working in K-12 leadership, teaching at the collegiate level, and/or research.