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Invited Paper Session Abstracts - Women in Mathematics: Math in Action

Friday, July 31, 1:30 p.m. - 3:20 p.m., Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Grand Ballroom D

Mathematics is in action within so many exciting non-mathematical settings, spanning from classical historical and cutting edge interplays between mathematics and physics, biology, and other sciences, to beautiful applications of mathematics to games, art, social justice, economics, and climate change, to name a few. Topics with possibly unexpected applications outside of mathematics include complexity classes, Ramsey colorings, tropical numbers, topology, hyperbolic surfaces, geodesics, and more.

In this session, we showcase current research done by women (and their students) of mathematics and statistics applied to a variety of non-mathematical settings. This session is sponsored by the AWM, and is organized by the AWM Committee on MathFest.

Cassie Williams, James Madison University
Shanna Dobson, California State University, Los Angeles
Janet Fierson, La Salle University
Emelie Kenney, Siena College
Sarah Wolff, Denison University

Sponsor: Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM)

Math, Medicine and Mysteries

1:30 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.
Ami Radunskaya, Pomona College


The title is meant to suggest that mathematics can be used to understand mysteries and answer questions about our health and well-being. I will tell you about some collaborations between mathematicians and scientists in which I have taken part where the goal was to answer questions like: How can we design cancer vaccines? How much blood-thinner should we prescribe? What are the best shoes to wear to improve your balance? These problems illustrate different types of mathematical models, and different mathematical techniques used to reach different goals. But the focus is the same: to understand the mysteries diseases and their treatments.



2:00 p.m. - 2:20 p.m.
Lynne Seymour, University of Georgia

Abstract TBA


Identifying Geohazards with Mathematics and Statistics

2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.
Celestine Woodruff, James Madison University


Geohazards such as sinkholes and landslides can be dangerous for people, property, and infrastructure. Mapping these features is important for studying their development as well as for creating hazard maps. High resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) can be used to show a topographic layout of the land and geologists can use them to visually identify these geohazards. However, the large number of regions that look like they could be sinkholes or landslide sites makes this a painstaking task. In our work we used a combination of mathematical and statistical techniques to describe the characteristics of known regions and determine which characteristics were significant. We then used these characteristics to automatically identify other such regions.


Crochet Topology

3:00 p.m. - 3:20 p.m.
Moira Chas, Stony Brook University


An interesting question surfaced (pun intended) in the 1800's: What is the largest number of regions into which one can divide a given surface so that every two regions share a segment of boundary? (This question is related to, but not the same as the generalization of the four color theorem to all surfaces) The answer was found in 1968 after a long and winding math road. This talk will consist of a discussion of some stretches of this fascinating road, profusely illustrated by surfaces crocheted by the speaker with maps of maximal number of regions (with each pair of regions sharing a segment of boundary). Some of these maps were recently discovered by undergraduate students Yanbing Gu, Connor Steward and Ajmain Yamin.