Katherine Pedersen


I received my Ph. D. in Topology at Tulane University in 1969 under Dr. Gail Young.  I had always planned to be a high school mathematics teacher until I was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for graduate school.  I chose to attend Tulane University on the WWF – on the advice of my undergraduate advisor at St. Louis University.

The most important factors in my being a mathematician have been the “mentors” who always entered when they were needed – and wanted.   I really did not think I would finish my dissertation – and Dr. Young called me in Carbondale, Illinois, and “told” me (advised me) to return to Tulane and finish my dissertation.  (I had met my husband in graduate school – also a Ph. D. in Mathematics, Tulane University, 1965.  We had two children by the time Professor Young called for me to return to Tulane.  My parents were visiting at that time, and my father “volunteered” my mother to come take care of the children while I returned to Tulane!!!)  I returned to Tulane, finished the dissertation – opening a great life.

We raised our children in Carbondale, Illinois.  Two wonderful children…our son is an actuary; our daughter was (1st) a system analyst; and currently, a classical homeopath with her private practice.  Our daughter has the three children..beautiful, intelligent – with wonderful personalities.  Our oldest granddaughter is a freshman in college – with a major in film.  I love it!!!

I have been able to communicate mathematics well.  I received the “Outstanding Teacher – University-Wide” from Southern Illinois University while we were in Carbondale.  I was quite involved in the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics.   So, I took it upon myself to change the world of teaching mathematics.  I went to South Dakota to head their Systemic Change Effort – and failed miserably.  I went back to the academic world and accepted a position at Southeastern Louisiana University as mathematics department head.  I think we (Southeastern) did a lot for mathematics in Louisiana at that time.  We started a State Mathematics Journal, introduced dual-enrollment (high school and college) courses, and so much more.

I am a tenured professor in the Southeastern Louisiana University Department of Mathematics.  I teach Fall and Spring, and my husband and I spend Summers and vacations in Wisconsin, about 2 hours from the grandchildren.    I spent three weeks with the grandchildren recently – and left our grandson with the following question (a little different vocabulary, maybe) : given M = Reals x Reals, with the “Trivial Metric” on M  (i.e., if P and Q are points in M, define the distance between P and Q to be “0 if P = Q and 1 if P =/ Q.”  Let A be a point in M.  Describe a circle of radius 1 about A)  Our grandson and I have conducted math lessons over e-mail for a long time – adding a discussion of mathematics to our relationship  – it cannot get any better.

Love you all – all our mathematical friends and colleagues.  Hurrah for all of us who were fortunate to fall in love with mathematics – and had the support to grow in mathematics.

Katherine Pedersen, Ph. D.

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1 Response to Katherine Pedersen

  1. Lherrold@siumed.edu says:

    Hi Katy! I’m having lunch with Becky Simmons brewer and we were talking about the math dept and your name came up as a counter to those we would rather not name. 😁 Hope all is well and know that you far reaching influence. Thank you! Linda Herrold

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