Jeffrey H. Wright
Associate Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science
Jeff Wright has been a member of the University of San Diego faculty since 2000. In the Math / CS Department, Jeff teaches the spectrum of lower division courses including algebra and calculus, as well as courses in applied mathematics at the upper division level, including linear algebra, ordinary and partial differential equations, numerical analysis, complex analysis and mathematical modeling. His current research focus is on the mathematical and numerical modeling of various aspects thermodynamic systems, as well as in the development of online resources focused on alternative mechanics of learning.
BSEE, Summa cum laude. 1982 U.C. Davis
Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics. 1999 U. C. Berkeley
Scholarly and Creative Work
The second law of thermodynamics has formed the basis for our understanding of the limitations of energy conversion for over one hundred fifty years. Since 2001, Dr. Wright has worked in collaboration with Dr. Daniel Sheehan (USD Physics) in investigating theoretical and experimental limits to the universality of the second law. This work has lead to the development of an assortment of mathematical and numerical models to explore the feasibility of various candidate technologies, and to the actual design and fabrication of experimental devices which are currently undergoing testing and characterization. Tools developed include one- and multi-dimensional ODE systems, as well as finite element models to conduct and graphically display parametric studies for device optimization and design. Students have been involved in much of this work.
In other work, Dr. Wright is developing web-based resources targeted at identifying and helping individuals suffering from math anxiety. Operating on a paradigm of 'coaching', rather than 'teaching' or 'tutoring', these resources aim to enlighten web visitors in the neurobiology and neuropsychology of learning and memory, and apply these insights to help make the process of learning a conscious exercise much like lifting weights in the gym.
Jeff works hard to engage students' learning in the classroom, and employs a variety of pedagogical methods. In particular, he is interested in what can be done from a practical standpoint to help students become more actively involved in their own learning. Students are commonly afflicted with the notion that they are either 'good at math' or not. This view has no basis in biology or neurology, but is rather endemic in popular culture. It is promulgated by a lack of understanding of the basis of how we learn to do mathematics, and is especially damaging to society in its effect to dissuade talented people from entering fields with a quantitative component.