I was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and grew up in Gowrie, Iowa, a town of about 1,000 people located 80 miles northwest of Des Moines. My father was a rural mail carrier and my mother was an elementary school teacher. My father’s cousin was E. F. Lindquist, an education professor at the University of Iowa who helped develop the ACT test, the GED exam, and has the patent for the first optical-mark scanner. Much of my childhood was spent riding bikes, playing football, delivering newspapers, launching rockets, and being a Boy Scout. My interest in abstract algebra started from a summer program I attended at the University of Iowa in 1966. I graduated from Prairie Community High School in 1967 along with 58 others, including another future mathematician (my twin brother Dan Anderson now at the University of Iowa).
I attended Iowa State University, where I received my BS and MS degrees in 1971. My mathematical skills were put to good use “counting cars” for the Iowa State Highway Commission during the summers of 1967 and 1968. During the summer of 1969, I attended an REU program in mathematics at St. Olaf College. Then it was off to the University of Chicago on an NSF Fellowship, where I received my PhD in 1976.
I joined the University of Tennessee in 1976 and have been Associate Department Head for Graduate Studies since 2001. I have been active in our REU program and was an AP Calculus grader and table leader from 1987 to 1998.
I am married with two grown children and five grandchildren. I enjoy reading about history and religion and particularly enjoy listening to college courses on CDs while commuting to work each day.