Professor of Mathematics
Edray Herber Goins grew up in South Los Angeles, California. The product of the Los Angeles Unified (LAUSD) public school system, Dr. Goins attended the California Institute of Technology, where he majored in mathematics and physics, and earned his doctorate in mathematics from Stanford University. Dr. Goins is currently a Professor of Mathematics at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He works in the field of number theory, as it pertains to the intersection of representation theory and algebraic geometry.
Goins has held positions at the world’s premiere research institutions, including the National Security Agency in Ft. Meade, Maryland; the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California; the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey; the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, Germany; Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. In his career, Goins has published over 25 journal articles in areas such as Applied Mathematics, Graph Theory, Number Theory, and Representation Theory, as well as topics such as Diophantine equations, elliptic curves, and African Americans in mathematics. He has given more than 220 invited addresses on his research, acted as a referee for nearly 20 different journals in mathematics, served on dozens of panels for the National Science Foundation (NSF), and been awarded more than $1,370,000 in external funding. Most recently, Goins was on the faculty at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana from 2004 through 2018, where he rose through the ranks to become Professor of Mathematics in 2017. He was only the second African American to receive tenure in the Department of Mathematics, and one of two African Americans out of 300 professors in the College of Science at the Big Ten school.
Goins is on the Board of Directors for several organizations: the 4S Education Foundation, a non-profit organization which seeks to prepare students for college admission through assistance with the application process, specifically through intensive instruction in writing and other communication skills; the Association of Members of the Institute for Advanced Study (AMIAS), an entity which focuses on welcoming new and incoming scholars to the Institute for Advanced Study, providing professional and social enrichment for current scholars and their families, and helping former scholars stay connected to the academic life of IAS; the Art of Problem Solving Initiative, Inc., a non-profit organization which seeks to help underserved students find a realistic pathway towards becoming scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and programmers; College Bridge, a non-profit organization which centers on intersegmental partnerships to bridge the gaps between K-12 and higher education; and the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM), a federally funded institute which fosters the interaction of mathematics with a broad range of science and technology, builds new interdisciplinary research communities, promotes mathematical innovation, and engages and transforms the world through mathematics. Goins is also a Program Director for the African Diaspora Joint Mathematics Workshop (ADJOINT) at MSRI. Goins served as president of the National Association of Mathematicians, Inc., the nationwide organization of African Americans in Mathematics, from 2015-2020.
Goins has served on 30 doctoral thesis defense committees, and has mentored several doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows alike. Goins has been involved with many programs throughout the country to work with students from all levels. He has taught mathematics with the Vanguard Engineering Scholarship Program through the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME); taught mathematics and physics in the Freshman Summer Institute (FSI) at Caltech; and led a research seminar in number theory in the Summer Undergraduate Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (SUMSRI) at Miami University. He even taught high school for one year, working at Eastside College Preparatory High School in East Palo Alto, California. Goins currently runs a federally-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) titled Pomona Research in Mathematics Experience (PRiME). In his career, Goins has worked with nearly 100 undergraduates outside the traditional classroom.
Awards and Honors
In January 2004, Goins was featured in Black Issues in Higher Education as one of the “2004 Emerging Scholars of the Year.” The issue featured nine “young educators bring[ing] their passion and excitement for teaching, research, and training to the forefront of the academy.” In 2011, he received the Ruth and Joel Spira Teaching Award from the Department of Mathematics at Purdue University for his excellence in Mentoring and Undergraduate Teaching. In January 2019, he was named a Fellow of the Association of Women in Mathematics (AWM) for his “outstanding leadership in the mathematics community; for his efforts and success in making the community more fair and diverse; for inspiring and mentoring many individuals; and for his significant research in number theory.” In May 2019, Goins received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (LHD) from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
New York Times
Goins caused quite a stir when he wrote a blog in September 2017 for the American Mathematical Society (AMS) titled “Why I’m leaving a Research I University for a Liberal Arts College.” In this essay, Goins outlined his reasons for leaving his tenured position at Purdue University after 14 years in favor of Pomona College. He discussed how isolation – both academic and social – led him to rethink his career trajectory. This blog was picked up by the New York Times, where Goins’s story was featured in more detail. The February 2019 front-page article titled “For a Black Mathematician, What It’s Like to Be the ‘Only One’” and its follow-up article titled ”What I Learned While Reporting on the Dearth of Black Mathematicians” featured Goins’s struggles with the mathematical community and his efforts to make it more inclusive.