California State University, Northridge mathematics professor Magnhild Lien has been named executive director of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM). She assumed the post the first of this month.
As executive director of AWM, Lien’s duties include strengthening and expanding the organization’s corps of volunteers and overseeing growth, grant and fundraising efforts. Despite her added duties, Lien plans to continue in her role as a faculty member at Cal State Northridge.
“AWM’s focus on issues of special interest to women in mathematics meshes extremely well with my determination to support and mentor women in the mathematical sciences,” Lien said. “The AWM should continue to serve as a liaison between its members and the other professional organizations in the mathematical sciences; ensure that issues of concern to women mathematicians are in the forefront; support and encourage women to take on leadership roles; promote and increase the visibility of women as research mathematicians and spread the ‘I can do mathematics’ message to young girls.”
Lien said she is particularly interested in helping young girls realize that the mathematical sciences can be fun fields of study, and pursuing careers in those areas is achievable when they grow up.
Jerry Stinner, dean of Northridge’s College of Science and Mathematics, said he was delighted to learn of Lien’s new position.
“She has had a long-standing interest in the recruitment and mentoring of women in mathematics, and this new position will allow her to expand her activities in very important ways,” Stinner said. “Because of people like Magnhild, close to 30 percent of the Ph.Ds. in America are now awarded to women, compared with only 6 percent in the 1960s, and there is near parity between males and females in mathematics performance in the U.S. I applaud her tireless efforts, and congratulate her on a very significant and well-deserved appointment.”
Born and raised in Norway, Lien moved to Canada in the 1970s and received her bachelor’s in mathematics from McGill University with distinction. She earned her master’s and doctorate in mathematics from Iowa University. Before joining the faculty at Cal State Northridge, she spent two years at College of Charleston in South Carolina and a year at Syracuse University in New York.
Lien has served as chair of CSUN’s Department of Mathematics and most recently was assistant director of the university’s Teachers for a New Era, an initiative supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York that works to strengthen teaching in the K-12 environment.
In addition to her years of work with AWM, Lien also is an active member of the Mathematical Association of America, where she served on the organization’s board for the Southern California-Nevada section and is currently the section governor.
Lien’s academic research focuses on knot theory, the study of mathematical knots which has applications in both chemistry and the study of DNA.
The College of Science and Mathematics at California State University, Northridge is among the top universities in the nation preparing students who go on to earn doctoral degrees in the sciences. In addition to ensuring that the region and the nation has a pool of talented scientists capable of assuming leadership roles in a knowledge-based, multicultural society, the college also prepares a number of students to attend medical, dental and pharmacy schools.