An expert in geometric topology, current University of Florida Professor Emerita Beverly L. Brechner, PhD—also a retired professor from the university after teaching from 1968 to 2003—ultimately wants to leave a personal, professional, and lifelong legacy of having done the best she could to contribute to others’ well-being, good fortune, and intellectual advancement. Even if she could not solve some of life’s or the classroom’s greatest problems, she recalls that she tried and always encouraged and challenged her students to do likewise, upholding her favorite Latin motto, “Ad astra per aspera,” which translates to, “To the stars through difficulties.”
Having taught undergraduate and graduate courses in math at all levels, Dr. Brechner is proud to have had four PhD students graduate under her dedicated guidance. A recent recipient of the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, she has also been honored with the George Polya Prize for Expository Writing and the Mathematical Association of America Service Award, Florida section. Along with these recognitions, one of her most inspiring experiences after she retired was having the opportunity to work with students on projects related to brain cancer and networks within the brain for the Brain Institute at the University of Florida.
The respected author of, or contributor to, 26 published scholarly papers, Dr. Brechner laid her own strong educational foundation by earning a PhD in math from Louisiana State University as well as master’s and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Miami. A perennial authority and continual learner in her field, she holds vital memberships and leadership roles with the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Her goal within the next few years is to learn more about the latest technology and use it to understand more about Albert Einstein’s theory of relatively on how speed affects time and space.
Dr. Brechner believes that a major part of her successful career in mathematics was being selected in 1961 to participate in the National Science Foundation Summer Institute for Graduate Students in Topology, held for eight weeks. It is her most exciting memory because that’s when she says she became a mathematician. Born in Bronx, New York, Dr. Brechner is abundantly grateful, too, for the unconditional love and support of her late parents, who were immigrants from Poland and did not finish high school yet ensured their children completed their education to achieve their dreams.