Inside Look: Faculty Spotlight
While most people find mathematics challenging, Dr. Xu developed a liking for the subject early on. "I loved math when I was a child. Solving math problems is like playing a game. I also loved teaching math when I was a high school student; I covered (taught) a class for my math teacher when he was away," comments Dr. Xu.
Dr. Xu joined EKU as an assistant professor in 2005 and climbed the ladder to the rank of professor. Prior to coming to EKU, he held faculty positions at Huanggang Normal University and Hubei University in China and at the University of California in Santa Cruz. However, he has found his teaching at EKU to be the most rewarding. "I like students at EKU most. I have taught at other universities in this country. We have the best students at EKU. They are eager to learn and work hard on the courses. I like teaching at EKU, and enjoy my classroom teaching every day."
Dr. Xu's greatest job satisfaction is in watching students learn mathematics and apply their newfound skills to problem-solving. One of his most significant achievements at EKU has been improving his teaching. "I am happy that I am able to teach some complicated and difficult math in a simple, clear, and direct way. In order to improve my teaching skills, I also take every opportunity to participate in workshops and conferences and learn from other mathematicians."
While at EKU, Dr. Xu has continually conducted research with students and has supervised many thesis research projects. He continues to provide advice to graduate students and has written several recommendation letters to support student applications to Ph.D. programs at other universities. "Dr. Xu was a wonderful advisor and mentor. He challenged me to do my best and motivated me to continue my education and pursue my doctorate. He once said I cared about understanding the math, and this would be a good quality to have if I decided to get a doctorate. Without his encouragement, I wouldn't have decided to go further," remarks Rachel Barber, one of Dr. Xu's students who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree at Mississippi State University.
Dr. Xu's research interests are in the areas of algebraic combinatorics, associative rings and algebras, commutative rings and algebras, group theory and generalizations, information and communication, linear and multilinear algebra, and matrix theory. He has published a book, more than fifty journal articles, and participated in numerous conference presentations.
Gifts from alumni and friends play an important role in promoting faculty excellence. Dr. Xu has been a beneficiary of the Vernon C. Wilson Endowed Chair that supports activities in the Departments of Chemistry, Computer Science, and Mathematics & Statistics. "The Wilson Endowment Seminar Series has brought many visitors and speakers to EKU, including some internationally known mathematicians. My collaborations with them has led to the publication of a research book and many research papers, and enhanced my research program," says Dr. Xu.
Dr. Xu has won many awards throughout his career including the D. R. Ostberg Award from the Department of Mathematical Sciences at No1thern Illinois University and an honorable mention for Excellence in Teaching at the University of California at Santa Cruz. During his tenure at EKU, he has been awarded the, Junior Faculty Summer Research Award, Excellence in Research and Creative Activities Award (twice) and the University Fellows Award.
Published on May 03, 2018