Christopher Brownell has been named the new chair of the Department of Mathematics and Science in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences (SLAS) following a competitive search. A longtime mathematics educator and researcher, Brownell arrives from the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City, where he was the head of instruction. He will assume the role on July 1.

“Professor Brownell has extensive experience in education and outreach programs in mathematics and the interface between mathematics and the arts,” said SLAS Dean Helio Takai. “He is also actively involved in various committees related to mathematics, STEM, and STEAM education at local, statewide, national, and international levels, as well as organizations and publishers related to mathematics and the arts.”

As chair, Brownell will oversee approximately 35 faculty who teach courses to hundreds of students from across disciplines each semester. The department offers a transdisciplinary approach to math and science to instill STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) experiences and knowledge in the study of creative disciplines. Undergraduate and graduate students learn scientific and quantitative skills to better understand the world so they can create work that thoughtfully responds to it. The Mathematics and Science faculty are actively engaged in research in areas including the chemistry of art conservation, environmental chemistry, sustainability, and biology. The department also includes the STEAMplant initiative, which has scholarship, residency, and grant programs for faculty, students, and staff that encourage interdisciplinary collaboration between STEM and art and design.

“Helping Pratt students to continue to strive to deploy their technical and creative skills to improve the world they are inheriting will be a primary focus for me,” Brownell said. “My commitment to the teaching of mathematics as a means to achieve a more just society is evident through the programs I have designed, and I look forward to continuing that emphasis here at Pratt.”

Prior to his work at the National Museum of Mathematics, Brownell served in leadership positions for over two decades at Fresno Pacific University. As a program director and associate professor of mathematics and STEM education, he redesigned the Master of Arts in Mathematics Education to have a dual emphasis on the teaching of mathematical modeling and mathematics for social justice, He also supervised a team of faculty members who taught graduate and undergraduate courses in math education, mathematics, and statistics. As a visiting professor at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, he contributed to the development of a STEAM education initiative.

His breadth of work in education and outreach programs in mathematics, particularly those that forge relationships between mathematics and the arts, includes co-curating the annual John A. Hiigli Children and Youth Math Art Exhibit, part of a growing collection of artworks in the Bridges Math Art collection.

Brownell has a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Claremont Graduate University, where he studied the implementation of Common Core State Standards in mathematics and teachers’ concerns and understandings of transformation geometry. He has widely published his research and presented his work around the world.