I am somewhat of a rarity on the faculty at the University of Virginia–a native Virginian. I did my undergraduate studies in French and mathematics as well as my M. S. in mathematics here at the University before pursuing my graduate work at the University of Chicago. I earned my Ph.D. in history from Chicago, where I was privileged to work under the supervision of I. N. Herstein in mathematics and Allen G. Debus in the history of science. My doctoral work explored the history of the theory of algebras and especially the role played by Joseph H. M. Wedderburn in that development.
Since 1988, I have been on the faculty at UVa where I have a joint appointment in the Departments of History and Mathematics, teaching the history of science in the History Department and mathematics and the history of mathematics in the Mathematics Department. I have been involved with Historia Mathematica, the international journal for the history of mathematics, first as Book Review Editor (1990–1994), then as Managing Editor (1994–1996), then as Editor (1996–1999), and now as a member of the editorial board (2000–present). I served as a member of the Council of the American Mathematical Society (1998–2001) and as a member of the Council of the History of Science Society (2001–2004). In 2002, I was elected the Chair of the International Commission for History of Mathematics (ICHM) for a term for the four calendar years from 2002 through 2005 and reelected for another four-year term from 2006 through 2009. I am particularly honored that my research was supported in 1996–1997 by both the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Science Foundation's Program for Visiting Professorships for Women and that it has been recognized by my election (in 2002) as a Corresponding Member of the Académie internationale d'histoire des sciences, (in 2012) as an Inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, (in 2016) as Commonwealth Professor of History and Mathematics here at the University of Virginia, and (in 2018) as the winner of the Albert Leon Whiteman Prize of the American Mathematical Society, an international prize awarded once every three years that honors "notable exposition and exceptional scholarship in the history of mathematics."
My research focuses primarily on the history of 19th- and 20th-century algebra and on the history of science and mathematics in America. In addition to exploring technical developments of algebra—the theory of algebras, group theory, algebraic invariant theory—I have also worked on more thematic issues such as the development of national mathematical research communities (specifically in the United States and Great Britain) and the internationalization of mathematics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most recently, Victor Katz and I published Taming the Unknown: A History of Algebra from Antiquity to the Early Twentieth Century, with Princeton University Press in 2014.
Although the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century mathematics is my primary research interest, I could not be my history of science adviser's "daughter" without having an interest in the so-called the Scientific Revolution. Michael Walton, Bruce Moran, and I brought out the edited volume, Bridging Traditions: Alchemy, Chymistry, and Paracelsian Traditions in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honor of Allen G.Debus, in 2015 in the Early Modern Studies series published by the Truman State University Press.
I am now at work on a new, long-range project on the development of the American mathematical research community in the twentieth century, a book tentatively entitled "A New Era in the Development of Our Science": The American Mathematical Research Community, 1920–1950.