Victoria S Akin
Assistant Professor of the Practice of Mathematics

I am an Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Mathematics Department. I work primarily on teaching and math education. I am currently interested in the retention of women in STEM fields and the effect of intervention programs on girls' attitudes and beliefs about math. I am co-directing the Girls Exploring Math (GEM) program as part of this research effort. 

My thesis work is in mapping class groups of orientable surfaces. In particular, can a subgroup of the mapping class group with a natural topological or geometric definition be characterized purely algebraically? Does the algebraic characterization reveal properties of the mapping class group? I am interested in characterizing the disk-pushing subgroup, handle-pushing subgroup, and braid group inside of their respective mapping class groups.

Current Research Interests

I am interested in Math Education. In particular, I am studying the retention of women in STEM fields and the effect of intervention programs on girls' attitudes and beliefs about math. I am currently running the second year of an outreach program and research study, Girls Exploring Math (GEM), focused on middle school girls in Durham Public Schools. The program combines mathematical problem solving with  age-appropriate discussions about the impact of social constructs on self-concept. Preliminary data show modest increases in confidence and growth mindset among participants. The second year of the program (2019-2020) emphasizes spatial reasoning. Spatial reasoning is one indicator of future STEM success in which women tend to lag behind their male counterparts. However, work by Sorby has demonstrated the effect of targeted interventions on spatial reasoning skills. The GEM program will gather data on the persistence of spatial reasoning skills approximately one year post intervention.

I am interested in professional development for mathematics graduate students (preparing new graduate students to teach). I have been working on a project with Emily Braley and Jack Bookman to compile the host of professional development activities run by the Duke Math Department: https://math.duke.edu/sites/math.duke.edu/files/Duke_GTAPD_course_design.pdf
Future goals include assessing the efficacy of the program at Duke.

My thesis work is in mapping class groups of orientable surfaces. In particular, can a subgroup of the mapping class group with a natural topological or geometric definition be characterized purely algebraically? Does the algebraic characterization reveal properties of the mapping class group? I am interested in characterizing the disk-pushing subgroup, handle-pushing subgroup, and braid group inside of their respective mapping class groups.

Office Hours

112L: Spring 2020
Monday-1pm to 3pm in Classroom Building 132
Tuesday-10am-11am in Physics 123
Wednesday-3pm to 4pm in Classroom Building 132

EHD 396: Spring 2020
Thursday-2pm to 3pm

Current Appointments & Affiliations

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