national association of mathematicians
The David Blackwell Lecture
What is the "MAA-NAM David Blackwell Lecture" Series?
Each year the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) honors mathematicians with invitations to deliver a lecture or series of lectures at its MathFest. Examples include the AMS-MAA-SIAM Gerald and Judith Porter Public Lecture, the AWM-MAA Falconer Lecture, the Hedrick Lectures, the James R. C. Leitzel Lecture, the MAA-NAM David Blackwell Lecture, and the Polya Lecture.
The MAA-NAM David Blackwell Lecture was officially started in 1994 with an inaugural address by Blackwell himself. David Harold Blackwell (April 24, 1919 -- July 8, 2010) is arguably the most decorated African-American mathematician. In 1935, at the age of sixteen, he entered the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1938, his Master of Arts in 1939 and his Doctorate in 1941; all in mathematics. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study from 1941-1942; mathematics department chair at Howard University from 1947-1954; and statistics department chair at the University of California at Berkeley from 1957-1961. He is best known for the Rao-Blackwell theorem in statistics which characterizes the transformation of an arbitrarily crude estimator into an estimator that is optimal by the mean-squared-error criterion.
Each year NAM invites a mathematical researcher who exemplifies the spirit of Blackwell in both personal achievement and service to the mathematical community. Blackwell first enrolled at the University of Illinois with the expectation to earn a degree in order to get a job as an elementary teacher. In an interview, Blackwell stated I'm not interested in doing research and I never have been.... I'm interested in understanding, which is quite a different thing. The Blackwell Lecturer gives an hour-long lecture, suitable for an audience of undergraduate students with a strong interest in conducting research in the mathematical sciences, which will promote an understanding of mathematics.
Suggest the next MAA-NAM David Blackwell Lecturer!
We welcome nominations for future MAA-NAM David Blackwell Lecturers! Please consider the following criteria:
Fill out the nomination form here.
Archive of Past MAA-NAM Blackwell Lectures