Joshua Holden Recognized as Endowed Faculty Innovation Chair

Wednesday, April 07, 2021
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The Innovation Chair will support Mathematics Professor Joshua Holden’s plans to develop and teach courses related to the integration of art with STEM, several in conjunction with the Artist in Residence program.

Mathematics professor Joshua Holden will incorporate elements of the arts into mathematics and technology as Rose-Hulman’s next Endowed Chair for Innovation in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Education, also known as the Innovation Chair.

The Innovation Chair recognizes Holden’s work as an outstanding teacher and academic scholar and will support his exemplary achievement in the development of pioneering academic and educational concepts and practices. The three-year term begins Sept. 1, 2021.

Endowed faculty chairs honor members of the Rose-Hulman faculty for their exemplary accomplishments outside of Rose-Hulman and further supports their professional activity in both national and international circles of scholarship, according to Ella Ingram, associate dean for professional development and professor of biology.

Professors receive annual stipends to continue to excel in their specialized areas, lead conversations with other educators in their fields and support research opportunities with undergraduate students.

Holden plans to develop and teach courses related to the integration of art with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at Rose-Hulman, several in conjunction with the institute’s Artist in Residence program. A new course in generative art, focusing on digital art, will incorporate aspects of laser cutting, 3D printing, and a computerized loom. Other innovative topics would cover poetry and mathematics; the math, physics, and engineering of fiber art; and the math, physics, and biology of color theory.

Hoping to make STEM and art activities accessible to more students, Holden is planning to organize two campus workshops each academic quarter covering a variety of topics. He and assistant art professor Soully Abas hosted a popular Islamic-style tile painting campus workshop in 2018 and provided sessions on weaving and graph theory during a past Rose-Hulman Undergraduate Mathematics Conference and Sonia Kovalevsky Math Day for Girls event. He also plans to collaborate with Rose-Hulman’s MakerLab and art clubs to encourage art and technology projects, including bringing in guests to present workshops.

“Creativity is a core premise of innovation. Dr. Holden’s activities will promote creative thinking – seeing design, math, and art as integrated disciplines – and therefore leverage RHIT’s unique role as a leading STEM institution,” said Ingram. “Dr. Holden’s track record and his connections in the math and art community will provide a variety of experiences heretofore unavailable at Rose-Hulman.”

A member of the Rose-Hulman mathematics faculty since 2001, Holden has spent most of his career studying number theory, unlocking some of the secrets behind cryptography and examining a field that’s becoming a battleground of some of the world’s best mathematicians and computer scientists.

His book “The Mathematics of Secrets: Cryptography from Caesar Ciphers to Digital Encryption” is helping others understand the mathematical principles behind ancient and modern cryptic codes and ciphers. Holden also has led National Science Foundation-funded research projects exploring discrete logarithms, advised several student projects and theses on discrete mathematics and algebraic number theory, and led the campus committee on integrating classroom technology.

Learn more about Holden’s professional background and activities in his faculty profile.

Established by a bequest in 2015, the Innovation Chair recognizes Rose-Hulman educators for their role as leaders of innovative education in STEM.

Current and past Innovation Chairs have been Azad Siahmakoun, an esteemed scholar and researcher in optics, micro-electro-mechanical systems, and nanotechnology, and Yosi Shibberu, an award-winning mathematics educator and former Fulbright Scholar.
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