Dr. Silvia Heubach

California State University, Los Angeles

Dr. Silvia Heubach

As a school girl in Germany, Silvia Heubach loved mathematics and wanted to teach it when she grew up. After she earned a master's degree in the subject, she joined a one-year exchange program at the University of Southern California (USC), expecting to return to Germany. Life intervened and she ended up earning her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at USC, and ultimately joined California State University Los Angeles (CSULA) in 1994.

Throughout her tenure at CSULA, Dr. Heubach's passion has been to share her love of mathematics with her students - to turn on the "aha" light bulb and to banish the perception that mathematics is to be feared and avoided. Mathematics is one of the greatest hurdles faced by many students on their paths to rewarding careers and Dr. Heubach has dedicated her professional career to helping them over that hurdle. She has been recognized with the Outstanding Professor Award in 1999 and has received a  Distinguished Women Award in 2013 at CSULA.

From the beginning she has experimented with different ways of teaching, such as by incorporating the software program Mathematica into a differential equations course. Later, with a National Science Foundation grant, she developed a modeling course built around Mathematica, to satisfy general education course requirements.

More recently, Dr. Heubach was the principal investigator and co-director of a five-year effort funded by the National Institutes of Health to improve the quantitative reasoning skills of life sciences majors. A sequence of redesigned courses was implemented in Fall 2012 and since then nearly 5,000 students have enrolled. As a result of this redesign, student pass rates have increased and surveys show an improvement in student attitudes toward math.

Dr. Heubach is now the faculty learning coordinator (FLCC) for a four-year grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education. This effort targets bottleneck STEM courses and uses the "flipped" teaching method to help students master difficult course material. In the flipped instruction model, students read textbooks and/or view lectures online before coming class, reserving classroom time for active learning and for working on more complex problems that would normally be assigned as homework. As FLCC, Dr. Heubach provides ongoing professional development to the faculty who have adopted flipped instruction under the grant. In addition, she worked with counterparts at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and San José State University to offer six one-day summer workshops to STEM faculty who are interested in the flipped model.

Dr. Heubach is now also playing a key role in revamping the path to college-level mathematics in response to Executive Order 1110. First year freshmen, who previously would have been required to take remedial mathematics courses, instead begin with college-level math courses along with co-requisite support courses to help them overcome their deficits in mathematics preparation. As part of a team of mathematics faculty, administrators, and staff, Dr. Heubach has led the redesign of the general education statistics course, which has an enrollment of nearly 2,000 students this fall.

"Dr. Silvia Heubach's work to ensure greater success for students in key courses such as calculus has enabled scores of students to complete degrees," said Lynn Mahoney, provost and vice president for academic affairs at CSULA. "Her work this past year with colleagues to entirely reimagine first-year math for all undergraduates has been simply outstanding and paves the way for hundreds more students to complete their degrees. …Cal State LA benefits daily from Dr. Heubach's commitment to students and to innovative teaching strategies."


S. Heubach and E. Torres. A New Mathematics Course Sequence for Life Sciences Majors: A progress report, Proceedings of the Sixth Annual International Symposium on Biomathematics and Ecology: Education and Research. Web. 23 April 2014, (13 pages)

Silvia Heubach and Elizabeth Torres. Improving Quantitative Skills of CSULA Life Science Majors. Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education – A view for the 21st Century. 

S. Heubach, Using The TI-89 To Convey Mathematical Concepts: An Introductory Modeling Course For Non-Science Majors, Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics (ICTCM), Addison Wesley, 2003, pp. 107-111.

S. Heubach, Using Mathematica To Convey Mathematical Concepts: An Introductory Modeling Course For Non-Science Majors, Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics (ICTCM), Addison Wesley, 2000, pp.160-165.

S. Heubach, An Innovative Approach to Modeling at the Freshman/Sophomore Level, Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics, Addison Wesley, pp. 166 - 170, 1999 

S. Heubach, An Innovative Modeling Approach at the Freshman/Sophomore Level, Proceedings of the 3rd Asian Technology Conference in Mathematics, Springer Verlag, 1998 

CC. Edwards, S. Heubach, V. Howe, and G. Klatt, Floppy Grids: Discovering the Mathematics of Grid Bracing, to appear as a COMAP module.

S. Heubach, Introducing Laboratories into a Differential Equations Course - How to get started!, Proceedings of the 9th Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics, Addison Wesley, pp. 232 - 236, 1997