Alissa S. Crans is the Associate Director of Diversity and Education at MSRI, a position she began in August 2012. Alissa is responsible for overseeing MSRI diversity and education programs including the Human Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC), MSRI-UP, the Joint Institutes Diversity Initiative, the Critical Issues in Mathematics Education workshop series, and serves on the Joint Institutes Diversity Committee.
Alissa earned her B.S. in mathematics from the University of Redlands in 1999 and her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California at Riverside in 2004 under the guidance of John Baez. She is currently an Associate Professor of mathematics at Loyola Marymount University and has held positions at Pomona College, The Ohio State University, and the University of Chicago.
Alissa's research interests lie in the field of higher-dimensional algebra and her recent work, funded by an NSA Young Investigator Grant, involves categorifying algebraic structures called quandles with the goal of defining new knot and knotted surface invariants. She is also interested in the connections between mathematics and music, and enjoys playing the clarinet with the Santa Monica College wind ensemble.
Alissa has extensive experience mentoring and supporting women mathematicians through her involvement in the Summer Mathematics Program (SMP) at Carleton College and teaching in the Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) program and the Summer Program for Women in Mathematics (SPWM) at George Washington University. She is also a co-organizer the Southern California Women in Mathematics Symposium, the Graduate Education Mentoring (GEM) Workshop, and the Career Mentoring Workshop (CaMeW), and has served on the AWM Workshop Committee. Alissa is extremely active in helping students increase their appreciation and enthusiasm for mathematics through co-organizing the Pacific Coast Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, funded by the NSF, NSA, and MAA, now in its 8th year.
She is a recipient of the Mathematical Association of America's 2011 Merten M. Hasse Prize for expository writing and 2011 Henry L. Alder Award for distinguished teaching by a beginning college/university mathematics faculty member. In addition, Alissa was an invited speaker at the MAA Sectional Meetings of the So Cal/Nevada, EPaDel, and DC-MD-VA Sections, and the keynote speaker at the University of Oklahoma Math Day, the UCSD Undergraduate Math Day, and Expanding Your Horizons Conference at James Madison University.
Email: acrans at msri.org