Our Team 

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Dr. Heather Finotti, Founder  & Instructor


    Heather earned a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004, specializing in applied mathematics (partial differential equations and applications to environmental issues, in particular).  Ranked one of the top 15 programs for a graduate degree in Mathematics in the world, she studied with and was mentored by mathematicians that are luminaries in their fields, including winners of the Abel Prize and the MacArther Genius Award, among other highly regarded awards.  She also had the opportunity to teach under and be mentored by leaders in Math Education,  like Uri Triesman and Michael Starbird, and engaged in pedagogical training through programs like the  UT Austin Supplemental Instruction Program and national Math Education Conferences.  These experiences bring together in her the combination of deep and extensive knowledge of the subject with a deep appreciation of and training in the craft of effective pedagogy.

She has taught students of all ages and stages in life, at every level of mathematical development in a variety of contexts. She started tutoring as a high school student and continued into college, began teaching professionally as an undergraduate instructor for Indiana University in 1995, taught as a teaching assistant and then primary instructor as a graduate student at the University of Texas Austin and in a few of the summers worked in the student help center at Austin Community College, led an innovative math circle program at UTexas, and after finishing her PhD, taught undergraduate and graduate level courses for the Ohio State University and the University of Tennessee as a postdoctoral research professor.  Other experiences include  teaching a couple of individualized courses for a very small high school in Austin, and offering math anxiety support privately.

    She had a son in 2008 who had health issues, and so she left academia to stay home for several years and help her son heal (and get him off to a great start in math, of course!).  In 2012 once he was healthy and began to attend school, she lectured at UT and shortly after began to teach for Art of Problem Solving.  This began her professional work with young children.  From 2007-2010 she also ran a math circle at a local private STEM Academy.  A few years prior to the pandemic, she began receiving requests to work  privately with a few mathematically accelerated children,  and those who haven't already graduated high school she continues to work with today. She also began homeschooling her son in 2020, and  they continue homeschooling today.  Gratefully, her son has had much success mathematically, and is still one of Love of Math's students!

For a more detailed look at some of the past university courses she has taught, see www.math.utk.edu/~heather/PastCourses.html . For further inquiry, please contact us. 


  Heather's experiences have shown her that math does not have to be scary or miserable to learn -- in fact, she's found that once students find their footing the beauty and joy in learning the subject reveals itself reliably. But "dumbing it down", reducing it to memorization, and other oft tried means of making math easier for students generally ends up increasing the students anxiety level and dislike of the subject, in addition to giving the student a quite poor foundation in the subject. If you remove the meaning, how can it be interesting or useful?  Without understanding, all we have to rely on is memorization -- so what happens if we forget something?  This is very anxiety inducing for many people.   Moreover,  "dumbing it down" sends a not-so-subtle message that the full depth of the subject is unattainable by the student. Research tells us this leads to students even more deeply believing they are incapable, and then inevitably falling far short of their true potential.  

  Instead, she's seen that we need to help students find their way to true understanding.  She has seen that teaching from this perspective, honoring the innate capacity each human has to learn while meeting them where they currently are, providing a setting for learning where mistakes are embraced as teachers, there is room for creativity and flexibility in problem solving, compassion and encouragement are the norm, and high expectations are held with adequate support to meet them, can work wonders for a student's progress and set a foundation for future learning that is solid and sure.  

    Her priority is always first and foremost to guide her students to build comfort, self-confidence,  and proficiency in the subject matter, without creating unnecessary stress or anxiety in the process.  Her motto: "Never underestimate the power of understanding simple things deeply."

Dr. Luis Finotti, Instructor


   Luis earned a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001, specializing in Number Theory.  Luis is currently a professor at the University of Tennessee, and has also taught for the University of Texas at Austin as a graduate student,  as well as The University of California at Santa Barbara and The Ohio State University as a postdoctoral professor.   He is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he earned his undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Sao Paulo in Mathematics.   

Besides being a research mathematician and educator, Luis also has extensive technological knowledge.  He's a self-proclaimed Linux evangelist, and used to spend his relaxation time ( pre-parenthood, of course, when such a thing still existed) reading technical books on Linux/Unix, bash, python, sed&awk, shell-scripting, and more.  He routinely codes as part of his computational number theoretic research, and has also contributed to the development of the free, powerful math computation interface known as SAGE. 

For the last few years, he has also enjoyed teaching courses for Art of Problem Solving, and the courses he's taught most frequently are the Number Theory and Python courses.


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