Associate Professor of Mathematics
An Indirect Path
Laurie Heyer's route to college teaching was indirect. "I grew up poor; my horizons were never wide," she says. But she had a natural affinity for teaching. "My little brother was my first pupil. I could teach him anything." She worked her way through college, and after eight years of modeling war games for the defense industry and getting a master's degree at night, was finally able to pursue a doctorate in applied mathematics at the University of Colorado.
The Right Place to Teach
With a specialty in bioinformatics-the use of computer science, mathematics and statistics to model and analyze biological systems-Heyer hit the job market in 2000. Her first interview was with a big university, but she called her husband after interviewing at Davidson. "If they want me, this is where I need to be." Davidson wanted her. "And I love it. I love teaching here."
Heyer teamed up right away with a colleague in biology who was into the new area of genomics in a big way. Her expertise was key to analyzing genetic data, and in 2001, she and Professor Malcolm Campbell published the first-ever undergraduate genomics textbook, Discovering Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics. The two are at again, along with Associate Professor of Biology Chris Paradise writing an introductory text for biology majors.
Big World and Small
"I'd never left the country before my 2006 sabbatical," said Heyer, who got the travel bug after "seeing the world through the eyes of my students." Now she is crossing continents off one by one. "But staying home is great, too," she says. "My husband and I are huge sports fans, and we go to as many events on campus as we can."
The Davidson Trust
Heyer is grateful that Davidson's financial aid does not require students to incur student loans. But there is more, she says: "Learning feeds on multiple perspectives, and The Davidson Trust brings a broader array of voices to the classroom. Increased diversity leads to richer discussion, and richer discussion leads to deeper understanding."