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Australian Maths Trust

2022 BH Neumann Award Recipients

Alan’s introduction to mathematics enrichment came through maths olympiads, which he first heard of at a 1988 training school in Sydney to which he had been invited as a wild card. One year later, he successfully won a place on the 1989 Australian IMO team. After that, Alan wasted no time jumping on board to help out with the next generations. Starting in 1990 at UQ, he assisted Dr Neil Williams, the AMOC State Director for Qld, handling large parts of the correspondence programme, as well as individually mentoring Qld’s IMO candidates.

Upon moving to the University of Adelaide in 1995 to pursue a PhD under Dr Christine O’Keefe, Alan’s work with AMOC went into hiatus. At the end of 2011, after returning from several years overseas, two events brought Alan back into the fold of the AMT: he was approached by the AMOC State Director, Dr Victor Scharaschkin, to mentor an IMO candidate; and he was invited by Dr Hans Lausch to join the Senior Problems Committee.
From then, he became involved with AMT activities, including taking an active role in enrichment workshops. In 2015, Alan became AMOC State Director for Qld, a role he performed even while living in Canberra during 2017, and then handed the reins to Dr Brenton Gray in 2019 while continuing as Deputy State Director. In 2022, Alan resigned from the Senior Problems Committee.

Outside his AMT involvement, Alan has maintained a passion for working with students and providing enrichment. In Adelaide, aside from regular teaching duties, he worked in the department’s “consulting room”, often doing extra unpaid hours just for the enjoyment of helping students and worked regularly in the university’s Mathematics Learning Centre with Geoff Coates. He was also a regular speaker at high schools and had his introduction to maths enrichment with primary school children. After returning from his time overseas, Alan started as a volunteer in 2008 providing an enrichment programme at the Qld Academy for Science Mathematics and Technology, for which he gained an Educator Award in 2012. In addition, Alan has continually been active with various ad hoc enrichment activities including workshops for groups of high school and primary school students, as well as individual mentoring.

John grew up in the UK and was always a keen puzzle and problem solver before an inspirational mathematics teacher, Mrs McCormick, provided the spark that made him determined to become, in turn, an inspirational teacher of mathematics. He studied a combined degree in Mathematics and Secondary teaching at the University of Warwick. Always a keen traveler, after several years teaching in the UK, John and his partner (now wife) got the travel bug again and spent some years traveling to many countries, before deciding to settle in Darwin where they, and now two children, have been ever since.

John’s interest in puzzles and problem-solving was re-ignited by his discovery of the AMC and other AMT competitions and he soon got his students involved. Never one to do anything half-heartedly, John accepted the position of NT State Director for the AMC in 2012. He has grown the competition significantly in the Northern Territory and has also promoted the CAT and other Trust activities. He has instituted a popular awards night and has also been an excellent guest member of the AMC Problems Committee.

John is a well-known speaker at the various state maths conferences, both on behalf of the Trust and in his capacity as an ambassador for Texas Instruments. In 2018, he took on the demanding position of Chair of the AMF and, hence, became a member of the AMT Board. He has brought great energy and enthusiasm to both roles.