Math Dreams

Melanie Matchett Wood

When assistant math professor Melanie Matchett Wood was in seventh grade, she was surprised to win a citywide math competition in her native Indianapolis. Then she won a state competition, and in eighth grade placed tenth in the country.

As Matchett Wood progressed in mathematics, she often found herself in situations where she was the only girl in the room, but she overcame her sense of isolation to become the first woman to represent the United States at the International Math Olympiad where she earned two silver medals (in 1998 and 1999).

Since then, she’s won dozens of additional math awards and earned her PhD in math at Princeton. As an assistant professor of mathematics at UW-Madison, she has continued to shine: in 2015, Matchett Wood was named a Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering.

If math is her first love, mentoring is a close second. Throughout her career, Matchett Wood has mentored women through university research programs, and she focuses on getting undergrads involved in math research.

She is also assistant director of the Wisconsin Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Talent Search, a UW initiative to identify and recruit exceptional high school students. Matchett Wood loves to help young people know what’s possible, and how they can achieve their dreams.