Associate Professor of Mathematics



          Caren L. Diefenderfer, associate professor of mathematics, joined the Hollins faculty in 1977.   Over the years her scholarly interests have included work in approximation theory, graph theory and computer graphics, and applications of linear algebra and abstract algebra.  Most of this work began while she was working with senior mathematics majors on senior theses.  Her current work involves the connections between music and mathematics and investigates the Pythagorean scale and its relationship to the equal temperament scale.


            Diefenderfer teaches a variety of undergraduate courses including quantitative reasoning, calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, several variable calculus, abstract algebra and a senior seminar course which includes applications of mathematical models and theory to real-life problems.  She has introduced computer technology to almost every course that she teaches and many of her courses require the use of MAPLE, a mathematical software program that makes it possible to approach problems from both a visual and numerical point of view.  MAPLE enables students (and instructors) to avoid tedious calculations and concentrate on important concepts.


            Diefenderfer is actively involved in the development of a quantitative reasoning (QR) across the curriculum program at Hollins.  Diefenderfer, along with Professor Trish Hammer, received an NSF grant during 2000-2002 for faculty development.  This grant brought outside scholars to Hollins and provided financial support for Hollins’ faculty members to develop applied quantitative reasoning courses in disciplines across the curriculum.  Diefenderfer is currently serving a second term on the Quantitative Literacy subcommittee of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).   


            Diefenderfer works with the College Board's Advanced Placement Calculus program and is one of a group of scholars responsible for setting standards for the national examination.  She was the AB exam leader in 1999 and 2000 and she was the BC exam leader in 2001. 


            A summa cum laude mathematics graduate of Dartmouth College, Diefenderfer earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Santa Barbara. 


            Outside of mathematics, Diefenderfer enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons.  She loves to read, travel, cross stitch, knit and hear from friends.



The men in her life.


Last update on 11 August 2005