Dr. Tom Wakefield, an associate professor in the YSU Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is the recipient of one of the 25 Under 35 awards that is sponsored by the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley and the Mahoning Valley Young Professionals club. The award is given to outstanding employees at local businesses.
Wakefield said that he had no idea he was nominated and that he was very surprised when he was notified in early November that he was an honoree.
“It was a great honor,” Wakefield said. “The past recipients of the award and current recipients are all people that I really respect and admire, and to be considered in that group of people is a real honor for me.”
This past year, Wakefield was named a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, a feat accomplished by only 15,729 people worldwide. Less than 150 of these Fellows are employed at universities worldwide, and Wakefield is the only full-time faculty member in Ohio that has the title of Fellow.
Along with that achievement, Wakefield serves as a mentor for many students at YSU and works on real-life problems with his students to help better the community. This year, Wakefield worked with a group of students to help realign police beats for the Youngstown Police Department.
“I received a grant called Preparing for Industrial Careers in Math, and it’s to help students see that there are things they can do with mathematics outside of academia, like in industry and government,” Wakefield said. “I contacted several local businesses and government agencies and asked them if they had any math problems we could work on and the police department replied that they did.”
For this project, the police department supplied students with crime data so that the data could be analyzed and new police beats could be suggested.
“Their police beats hadn’t been realigned since 1998 so there was a great inequity in workload among the different beats because crime patterns of course had shifted over the past 15 years,” Wakefield said. “They analyzed the data, they wrote up a report, they met with the police department monthly, and ultimately, starting Jan. 1, those police beats are going to be implemented that they recommended. It was a really cool project.”
For the upcoming spring semester, Wakefield and his students will work with the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation and the YSU Center for Student Progress on similar problems.
Honorees for the 2016 25 Under 35 awards will be recognized at a ceremony at Stambaugh Auditorium on Feb. 11.