Marina Tvalavadze

Marina Tvalavadze
Monday, January 28, 2019 - 9:29am

POSITION: Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream

ACADEMIC UNIT:  Department of Mathematical & Computational Sciences

PLACE OF BIRTH: Moscow, RU

JOINED UTM FACULTY: 2017

“Each student must present his or her own solution to a problem without notes or texts for assistance.”

As fate and diligence would have it, Marina Tvalavadze has not one, but two PhDs to her credit.

“I was very close to finishing my first PhD in Moscow when my supervisor got a job at Memorial University in Newfoundland,” says Tvalavadze, whose specialty is algebra. “I decided to follow him because I didn’t want to change PhD supervisors, but it meant that I had to enter another PhD program.”

Luckily, Tvalavadze enjoyed her Canadian experience and has remained in this country. She joined UTM in 2012 on a teaching contract and was offered a permanent teaching position in 2017. “It’s such a friendly place,” she says.

Tvalavadze is interested in implementing different learning approaches and has designed her upper-year course on Galois Theory around inquiry-based learning.

“Instead of traditional lectures, the class is based on student presentations,” says Tvalavadze. “Each student must present his or her own solution to a problem once every two weeks without notes or texts for assistance. It’s very engaging and effective for teaching advanced mathematics. It’s great for small classes. In fact, many of my students had taken other inquiry-based courses and asked me to structure the Galois course that way.”

Tvalavadze is also one of the professors teaching introductory calculus, which uses an active learning approach. Students read the relevant material prior to coming to class and the instructors begin each lecture with questions that students answer using their i-clickers.

“It’s different from a traditional lecture,” she says. “The clicker questions test their knowledge of the material so we know which topics need further explanation.”

Although teaching is the focus of her position, Tvalavadze continues to do mathematics research. “I enjoy solving challenging problems. It’s fun for me. I’ve done it since high school.”

Outside the classroom, Tvalavadze oversees two popular initiatives designed to boost interest in mathematics with assistance from current and former students – The Code Club that teaches computer coding to girls ages seven to 14, and Mathematical Circles, weekly sessions where high school students hear speakers or discuss interesting topics in mathematics as a way of encouraging them to pursue degrees in mathematics.

In addition, Tvalavadze jokes about her rewarding “second job”, raising her five-year-old daughter.

Selected Publications:

1. M. Tvalavadze and P. Vickery, A Note on Division Algebras of Dimension Four, Journal of Algebra and its Applications, Vol 16, 5, 2017 (9 pages).

2. M. Tvalavadze, Lie Algebras of maximal class with polynomial multiplication, Journal of Lie Theory, Vol. 26, 1, 181-192, 2016

3. M. Tvalavadze, T. Barron, D. Kerner, On Varieties of filiform Lie algebras, Canad. J. Math 67 (2015), 1, 55-89.

Read about other new faculty members at UTM.