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Past MAA Distinguished Lectures

Moon Duchin
6:30 PM - October 24, 2016

MAA Carriage House
1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

 

 

 

Abstract: With the election just over two weeks away, maybe it's a good time to step back from the horse-race coverage and think about the mathematical fundamentals!  Voting is actually a really hard math problem:  how do you fairly aggregate the preferences of millions of people into a single authoritative outcome?  In this talk, I'll try to weave together math, politics, and civil rights to tell a collection of different stories clustered around the idea of "one person, one vote."

Biography: Moon Duchin is an associate professor of Mathematics at Tufts University and is the founding director of Tufts' new interdisciplinary Program in Science, Technology, and Society, which spans scholarly approaches to putting science in social context.  She has degrees in math and women's studies and a long-standing interest in the history, philosophy, and anthropology of science.  In math, her work is in low-dimensional geometric topology, geometric group theory, and dynamics.  She lectures widely on her research and engages in educational outreach to all ages of students, with a particular focus on broadening participation in mathematics.  She has a PhD from the University of Chicago, a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation, and recently served as a plenary speaker for the American Mathematical Society.

If you want to read more about Moon Duchin's lecture, click here.

If you want to watch a video summary of Moon Duchin's lecture, click here.


Ken Ono
6:30 PM - October 13, 2016

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

 

 

Abstract: Ramanujan's work has has a truly transformative effect on modern mathematics, and continues to do so as we understand further lines from his letters and notebooks. In this lecture, some of the studies of Ramanujan that are most accessible to the general public will be presented and how Ramanujan's findings fundamentally changed modern mathematics, and also influenced the lecturer's work, will be discussed. The speaker is an Associate Producer of the film The Man Who Knew Infinity (starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons) about Ramanujan. He will share several clips from the film in the lecture.

Biography: Ken Ono is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Mathematics at Emory University. He is considered to be an expert in the theory of integer partitions and modular forms. He has been invited to speak to audiences all over North America, Asia and Europe. His contributions include several monographs and over 150 research and popular articles in number theory, combinatorics and algebra. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA and has received many awards for his research in number theory, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship and a Sloan Fellowship. He was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) by Bill Clinton in 2000 and he was named the National Science Foundation’s Distinguished Teaching Scholar in 2005. In addition to being a thesis advisor and postdoctoral mentor, he has also mentored dozens of undergraduates and high school students. He serves as Editor-in-Chief for several journals and is an editor of The Ramanujan Journal. Visit his web page at http://www.mathcs.emory.edu/~ono/

If you want to read more about Ken Ono's lecture, click here.


Evelyn Lamb
6:30 PM - September 15, 2016

 

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

 

Abstract: For two thousand years, mathematicians tried to prove that Euclidean geometry, the geometry you probably learned in high school, was all there was. But it's not! In the early nineteenth century, János Bolyai and Nikolai Lobachevsky independently discovered that by tweaking one of Euclid's postulates, geometry can look totally different. We will explore the rich world of hyperbolic geometry, one of the new and beautiful systems of geometry that results from this tweak. Our guides on the adventure will be mathematically inspired artists and artistically inspired mathematicians, including M.C. Escher, Daina Taimina, and Henry Segerman.

Biography: Dr. Evelyn Lamb is a freelance math and science writer based in Salt Lake City. She earned her Ph.D. in mathematics at Rice University in 2012 and taught at the University of Utah until 2015. She began her science writing career in 2012 with a AAAS-AMS mass media fellowship at Scientific American. It was love at first blog post, and she has been making mathematical concepts fun and accessible to a general audience ever since. In addition to math, she loves music, sewing, and the outdoors. Dr. Lamb has written for outlets including Scientific American, Slate, Nature News, and the American Mathematical Society. Her blog Roots of Unity is hosted on the Scientific American blog network, and she coauthors the Blog on Math Blogs for the AMS. Follow her on Twitter: @evelynjlamb.

If you want to read more about Evelyn Lamb's lecture, click here.

If you want to watch a video summary of Evelyn Lamb's lecture, click here.


Talithia Williams
6:30 PM - June 8, 2016

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Abstract:Carol Dweck’s research on having a “growth mindset” posits the idea that by tackling a problem that is mildly difficult to solve, we can increase our brain’s problem solving ability and our overall capacity to learn. Likewise, Clifford Adelman, author of the U.S. Department of Education's Answers in the Tool Box and The Toolbox Revisited, says that the highest level of high school mathematics is the strongest indicator for college degree completion. A student’s mathematical ability continues to make a difference in their likelihood of completing college no matter what their eventual major might be. In this talk, we’ll begin a discussion about how all of us, whether math educators, grandparents, or volunteers, can begin to cultivate a mathematical mindset in the young people around us. Mathematics is a great equalizer and while the causes of America’s achievement gap are out of our hands, a potential solution is well within our reach.

Biography: Dr. Talithia Williams takes sophisticated numerical concepts and makes them understandable and relatable to everyone. As illustrated in her popular TED Talk, Own Your Body's Data, she demystifies the mathematical process in amusing and insightful ways, using statistics as a way of seeing the world in a new light and transforming our future through the bold new possibilities inherent in the STEM fields. As an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, she has made it her life's work to get people—students, parents, educators and community members—more excited about the possibilities inherent in a STEM education.

In her present capacity as a faculty member, she exemplifies the role of teacher and scholar through outstanding research, with a passion for integrating and motivating the educational process with real-world statistical applications. Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Spelman College, Masters' degrees in both Mathematics from Howard University and Statistics from Rice University, and a Ph.D. in Statistics from Rice University. Her professional experiences include research appointments at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the National Security Agency (NSA), and NASA.

Dr. Williams develops statistical models which emphasize the spatial and temporal structure of data and has partnered with the World Health Organization in developing a cataract model used to predict the cataract surgical rate for countries in Africa. Through her research and work in the community at large, she is helping change the collective mindset regarding STEM in general and math in particular— rebranding the field of mathematics as anything but dry, technical or male-dominated, but instead a logical, productive career path that is crucial to the future of the country. She is active in her faith community and serves with her husband as a Christian marriage mentor couple, all while being the mom of three amazing boys.

If you want to read more about Talithia Williams's lecture, click here.

If you want to watch a video summary of Talitiha William's lecture, click here.


Zvezdelina Stankova
6:30 PM - May 31, 2016

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Abstract: Whether designing the new tile pattern in your kitchen backsplash, trying to avoid bad investment sequences, or simply counting all possible paths from your home to work that do not cross over the local river, inescapably you are venturing into the realm of restricted patterns.

In this talk, we shall discuss several paths of pattern-exploration, and think about whether or not there is a "true" way of approaching pattern-avoidance equivalence and ordering among the array of generated ideas and methods. No matter what your math background is, you will find your own path between realistic visualization and abstract thinking, and perhaps, you will fall in love with one of our open problems.

Biography: Professor Zvezdelina Stankova (Zvezda) was drawn into the world of mathematics when, as a 5th grader, she joined the math circle at her school in Bulgaria. Three months later she won the Regional Math Olympiad. Zvezda represented her home country at two International Mathematical Olympiads (IMOs), earning silver medals.

As a freshman at Sofia University, Zvezda won a competition to study in the U.S. where she completed her undergraduate degree at Bryn Mawr College in 1993. Zvezda completed her first math research in enumerative combinatorics at two summer programs in Duluth, Minnesota. The resulting papers contributed to her Alice T. Schafer Prize for Excellence in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Woman, awarded by the Association for Women in Mathematics. In 1997, Zvezda received a Ph.D. from Harvard University, with a thesis on moduli spaces of curves, in the field of algebraic geometry. She also earned a high school teaching certificate in Massachusetts, and later, in California. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) and UC Berkeley in 1997-1999, Zvezda co-founded the Bay Area Mathematical Olympiad and created the Berkeley Math Circle (BMC). She trained the U.S. national team for the IMOs for six years, including the memorable year of 2001 when three of the six team members were BMCers, and the U.S. tied with Russia for second overall in the world. Since 1999, Zvezda has worked at Mills College in Oakland, CA. Starting in the fall of 2016, she will be joining the Math Department at UC Berkeley.

Zvezda’s inspiring style and passion to teach were recognized by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA): in 2004 she received the first Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College or University Mathematics Faculty Member. In 2011 MAA honored her with the highest math teaching award in the U.S., the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. Individuals who receive this award are recognized for their teaching effectiveness and for their influence beyond their own institutions. Zvezda was featured in the Salutes Program of the ABC 7 News in spring 2011. In 2012, she was listed in Princeton’s Review of "300 Best Professors."

In 2015-2016, Zvezda introduced a new middle school math program based on a new textbook series, which she translated, adapted, and co-authored. Zvezda’s most enduring passion remains working at the BMC with young students motivated to discover new mathematical wonders. She spends a lot of time with her daughter and son, studying with them foreign languages and playing the piano, and teaching them mathematics the “Bulgarian’’ way.

If you want to read more about Zvezdelina Stankova's lecture, click here.

If you want to watch a video summary of Zvezdelina Stankova's lecture, click here.


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