Australian Maths Trust


The 2001 BH Neumann Awardees were Andy Edwards, Michael Evans and Alice Thomas. They were presented with their awards at separate ceremonies and their citations follow.

Andy Edwards receives his Award from Professor Neumann.

Andy Edwards with wife Genevieve, sons David and Kane and Professor Neumann.

Andy Edwards is a worthy winner having given sustained service to the Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians (“The Challenge”) Problems Committee as a foundation and continuing member. The Challenge is a significant Australian effect, with about 16,000 Australian school students annually attempting mathematics problems over a three week period.

The Challenge significantly enhances and enriches the mathematics skill and knowledge of these students each year, improving their thirst and capacity for further study.

Andy has proved to be the most prolific creator on this committee over the years. His problems not only require correct mathematical reasoning but also show a fertile imagination in placing such problems in a friendly, real-world sitution.

Many of Andy’s problems have lead to unsolved and fascinating extensions. One of these is the one involving the O’Halloran numbers, named in honour of Peter O’Halloran, founder of the Australian Mathematics Trust.

Andy has an earthy, direct style, which has endeared him to colleagues and students alike.

Let us look at Andy’s background. He was lucky to be born into a highly intellectual family, in which the home was liberally furnished with maps and similar devices which aroused his interest and developed his enthusiasm for further knowledge.

He had a satisfying education at both Surry Hills State School and later Scotch College, both in Melbourne, where there was a ready supply of teachers well able to continue to satisfy his quests for further knowledge and provide further challenge.

He went on to Monash University, where his brother Frank was studying Engineering, and he studied Economics, particularly enjoying the quantitative units, particularly Economic Statistics. However, instead of pursuing an Honours Degree, he decided to enrol in a Dip Ed.

His first posting was to Mornington, where he met his wife Genevieve and later Bruce Henry, with whom he developed a strong professional association, jointly producing books and other publications.

In the early 1980s he moved to Mildura, where he stayed for almost 20 years. Here he kept active not only teaching his normal classes but getting involved with many workshops and other activities organised by the MAV and AAMT, mainly in Victoria.

In the late 1980s he enriched his life by taking up marathon running, completing one race, and an exchange in Southern Ontario in Canada, which broadened his perspective greatly.

In 1991 he became a foundation member of the Challenge Problems Committee at the invitation of its Chairman Bruce Henry. The strength of his sustained involvement here are discussed in the introductory remarks.

In 1997 he was honoured with an invitation to present a keynote lecture at the MAV Annual congress, the largest congress for mathematics teachers in Australia each year.

In 1999 he moved on to a different career, as Head of Mathematics in a private school interstate. He moved to Ormiston College in Brisbane, where he further distinguished himself in his first year by coaching the first grade AFL team and taking it to its first ever premiership. (He is a dedicated Melbourne supporter.)

Finally, Andy’s courage in fighting a very serious illness should be noted. At the end of 2000 and beginning of 2001 he showed typical character and disposition in encountering the worst period of this disease, and this has been a close, first-hand inspiration to his colleagues.

The fact that he is now back teaching, and in fact taught his classes in Brisbane this morning, says a lot for his determination.

Peter Taylor
Friday 17 August 2001

Michael Evans receives his Award from Professor Neumann, at the function at Rockman’s Regency Hotel, Melbourne.

Michael Evans with mother Len, wife Cheryl and father Bill.

Michael Evans has a distinguished record as a mathematics educator in Victoria and Australia and in his career has added value to the mathematics learning of many thousands of Australian students beyond those in his own school.

Born in South Australia, Michael moved with his parents at the age of seven. He completed his secondary studies at Brighton High School, where he was School Captain and was involved with swimming, athletics and hockey. He competed in State Championships in swimming and played First Division in hockey.

He was educated at Monash University from 1966 to 1973, earning an Honours Science Degree majoring in Pure Mathematics, and completing a PhD under the supervision of Professor Finch (and partly with Terry Speed at Sheffield in 1971). In 1973 he received a Dip Ed at La Trobe University.

During the 1970 and 1980s he also travelled somewhat in Europe, and developed a special interest in Byzantine Studies and Greek and Middle eastern history.

While Michael had the qualifications for a research career, and in fact wrote a number of papers in ring theory, Michael elected to develop a ceareer as a teacher. After graduating in Dip Ed and some post doctoral study Michael joined the government school system, where in 1978 he was with the now closed Moreland High School in Coburg in 1978.

In 1979 he moved across to St Michael’s Grammar School, where he stayed until 1987. In 1988 he was appointed Head of Mathematics at Scotch College, where he has been ever since. Scotch is a school which has produced such mathematicians as Sir Thomas Cherry, ER Love, and other Australian professors such as Tim Brown and Robert Bartnik.

Michael has had a profound influence of his own at Scotch. In its history, Scotch has produced 16 AMC medals, 15 of which were awarded after he arrived. This is an average of more than one per year. In addition, Scotch has produced 9 members of IMO teams, all since his arrival at the school, an average of almost one per year in recent times. Michael’s influence on mathematics at Scotch clearly pervades all levels in a positive way.

Michael is an outstanding text book author, having written successful texts for Canmbridge which have sold well, not only in Victoria. He has been contributor or co-editor to a number of Trust publications, including the Tool Chest and Enrichment Series.

He was an original member of the Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians Problems Committee, and has for over ten years been a member of the Australian Mathematical Olympiad Committee Senior Problems Committee.

He was Deputy Leader of the Australian IMO team on three occasions, including the very difficult trip to India in 1996 when one of our students became ill and Michael and Cheryl stayed behind with him.

He was prepared to fill in at short notice in 1996 to be Acting Director of Training for AMOC while a new person was being appointed, and directed the School of Excellence in Melbourne in December 1996.

Michael has been actively involved in curriculum development and assessment in Victoria, having served in a number of roles with the VCE, MAV and Board of Studies. He has also given a number of workshops for teachers, and in recent years these have been particularly directed at making the most effective use of the graphic calculator.

In 1999 Michael was recognised by Monash University with an Honorary Doctorate. This was a particularly rare honour, particularly for his profession.

Peter Taylor
Friday 08 June 2001

Alice Thomas receives her Award from Professor Neumann.

Alice Thomas with family. Rear, from left great-niece Felicity Parkhill, niece Claire Parkhill, daughter-in-law Dianne, son Richard, granddaughter Rachael. Front, Alice with Richard.

Alice was born in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, a fertile rural region. It was unusual for a girl to show an interest in becoming a mathematics teacher, involving studying at University in Sydney, but her father defended her right to pursue this course.

Alice has pursued a long career as a teacher, particularly in the most recent years at Meriden College, Sydney, where she has become a role model in inspiring students to take an interest in Mathematics.

In 1990 she took up an invitation from Peter O’Halloran to become a foundation member of the Challenge committee, joining another teacher in Andy Edwards and a number of academics under the leadership of Bruce Henry. In her time on the committee she has been prolific in the creation of challenging problems for secondary students as well as in constructively helping to embellish problems contributed by others. Her contributions have been professional by any judgement.

She has written texts for students, both with Phoenix and CUP, in the latter case joining probably the most illustrious writing team in Australia, including Michael Evans and Bill Pender.

Alice has, as a teacher, run many workshops for teachers around her state, up as far north as Murwillimbah, written countless Journal articles, been active running the Challenge in her own school, and been involved with various NSW Committees overseeing the school syllabus.

In her personal life Alice has endured the extremes of life in a remarkable way, and in conclusion she is a most worthy winner of this award and typical of what the award is about.

Peter Taylor
Saturday 26 May 2001