Zalman Usiskin is a professor emeritus of education at the University of Chicago, where he was an active faculty member from 1969 through 2007. In 1983 he helped initiate the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) and he served as its overall director from 1987 until June 2019.
He began his career as a high school mathematics teacher and his research has focused accordingly on the teaching and learning of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry, with particular attention to applications of mathematics at all levels, the use of transformations and related concepts in geometry, algebra, and statistics, and the incorporation of calculator and computer technology in learning and doing mathematics. His interests are broader, covering all aspects of mathematics education, with particular emphasis on matters related to curriculum, instruction, and testing; the selection and organization of content; the teaching and learning of mathematics; international mathematics education; teacher education; the history of mathematics education; and educational policy.
He is the author or co-author of over 150 articles and other papers on mathematics and mathematics education, dozens of books and book-length research monographs, including textbooks and their teachers’ editions for a full mathematics curriculum for grades 6-12 and a college-level text Mathematics for High School Teachers – An Advanced Perspective. In 2014, NCTM published a book containing 38 of his talks and articles, the first time the organization published a collection of writings of one person.
He has spoken at conferences or colloquia in all 50 U.S. states, 8 provinces of Canada, and 25 other countries. He has been on the program of every NCTM annual meeting since 1972. In both 1987 and 1999 he was the banquet speaker at the NCTM annual meeting with a presentation combining music and mathematics. He has received the highest honors bestowed by the two largest mathematics education organizations in the United States, the Glenn Gilbert (National Leadership) Award from the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics in 1994, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from NCTM in 2001. In 2018 he received the ISDDE Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the International Society for Design and Development in Education.