His students at the University of Georgia know him as a calculus professor. His colleagues know him as a researcher who is interested in how geometric ideas provide insights for algebraic problems.
President Obama knows him as an award-winning mathematician.
Crossroads School alumnus Daniel Krashen is one of 105 recipients of this year’s Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor in the U.S. for researchers in the beginning stages of their careers.
“In my opinion, mathematics is a community endeavor, and to me, the significance of the award is the value which it brings back to my community: my mentors, collaborators, colleagues and students,” Krashen said.
Established by President Clinton in 1996 and coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the PECASE program aims to honor innovative researchers who have demonstrated scientific leadership and commitment to education or community outreach, according to a press release. Krashen and his fellow awardees will be recognized at a ceremony this spring in Washington, D.C.
“These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,” Obama said in the release. “We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people.”
Krashen has been deeply involved in academia since graduating from Oberlin College with a math degree in 1994. He was a graduate instructor at the University of Texas, where he earned a doctorate in 2001, and he’s previously held teaching positions at UCLA and Yale University.
He’s now an associate professor at the University of Georgia, where he teaches graph theory and studies the intersection of geometry and algebra. He won a research medal there in 2012.
Krashen, who graduated from Crossroads in 1991, said the support he received from teachers and fellow students during his time at the Santa Monica private school was crucial to his academic success. He said administrators were flexible in allowing him to adjust his schedule so he could take university courses while in high school.
One of his biggest influences at Crossroads was Joe Wise, then a physics teacher and now the director of STEM education at Wildwood School in West Los Angeles.
He “encouraged me and enthusiastically pushed me towards pursuing my interests,” Krashen said.
Krashen was also inspired by Magdalena Bezanilla, who was at Crossroads at the same time and who convinced him to expand his knowledge of chemistry and physics. Bezanilla, now a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts, was a PECASE honoree in 2010.
“I have nothing but good memories from my time at Crossroads,” Krashen said. “The accepting social environment, the beautiful music and artwork of the students, and the energy and genuine care and attention of the teachers made it a wonderful place to be.”