You are here

Invited Addresses

Invited address speakers are experts in the mathematical sciences who are invited and selected by committee to present at MAA MathFest. Each presenter will share their stories and expertise for 50 minutes with attendees.

Note: All presentations are scheduled in Grand Ballroom Salon G & H of the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown. All sessions are listed in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT = UTC-4:00)

MAA Earle Raymond Hedrick Lecture Series

Suzanne Lenhart, University of Tennessee

Lecture I - One Health and Modeling: Connecting Humans, Animals, and the Environment

Thursday, August 4, 11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m., Salon GH


'One Health' is a multidisciplinary approach to improving the health of people, animals, and the environment. Mathematical models of infectious diseases involving animals, environmental features, and humans contribute to this approach. We will start with calculating the basic reproductive number R0 for a simple S-I (susceptible-infected) model with two differential equations. These models can suggest management policies and predict disease spread. We will discuss a model involving La Crosse virus in Knox County, Tennessee. This system of differential equations represents animals (specifically mosquitoes) carrying the virus and shows the connection with environmental features. Additionally, we will present a model of Buruli ulcers, a disease caused from environmental exposure, from our collaborations in Africa.


Lecture II - From Calculus to Optimal Control: Optimization for Sustainable Fishery Harvest

Friday, August 5, 10:00 a.m. - 10:50 a.m., Salon GH


Marine fisheries are a significant source of protein for many human populations, and models can suggest management policies for natural renewable food resources. We will start with the concept of maximum sustainable yield modeled with one ordinary differential equation including constant proportional harvesting using calculus. Optimal control techniques can be used to design time varying harvest rates in systems of ordinary differential equations. We will illustrate these techniques with an example of a food chain model on the Turkish coast of the Black Sea. Incorporating data from the anchovy landings in Turkey, optimal control of the harvesting rate of the anchovy population in a system of three ordinary differential equations (anchovy, jellyfish, and zooplankton) gives management strategies. Finally, the idea of marine reserves in simple spatial models will be introduced.


Suzanne Lenhart is a Chancellor's professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She was a part-time research staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for 22 years. She is a recognized expert in optimal control and ordinary and partial differential equations, with modeling applications to populations, natural resources, invasive species, and diseases. She has authored many journal articles, as well as two texts, Optimal Control applied to Biological Models and Mathematics for the Life Sciences.

She was the President of the Association for Women in Mathematics in 2001-2003. She received fellow awards from SIAM, AMS, AWM, and AAAS. She was the Associate Director for Education and Outreach of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis for the last 12 years. Lenhart has been the director of Research Experiences for Undergraduates summer programs at UT for 27 years.


AMS-MAA Joint Invited Address

How Noncommutative Algebra Points toward Quantum Geometry

Thursday, August 4, 10:00 a.m. - 10:50 a.m., Salon GH

Manuel Reyes, University of California, Irvine


Noncommutative algebra is the study of algebraic systems in which the order of multiplication can affect the outcome of a product. I invite you to explore this weird and wonderful world, beginning with familiar examples from linear algebra and visiting some historical sources of noncommutative algebra. We will learn about its physical relevance through its remarkable connection with quantum mechanics. Then we will discuss its potential to reshape the foundations of geometry as mathematicians try to reconcile noncommutativity with an algebraic perspective on geometry.


Manuel Reyes is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of California, Irvine. His research lies at the intersection of several topics including ring theory, noncommutative geometry, category theory, and quantum foundations. After studying at Westmont College and UC Berkeley, he was a postdoctoral fellow at UC San Diego and then a faculty member for several years at Bowdoin College before returning to California. He strives to teach in a way that invites anyone to discover a passion for mathematics, regardless of their past experiences.



MAA Invited Address

Empowering Black Male Students in Mathematics Contexts: Insights from a Critical Race Scholar

Thursday, August 4, 9:00 a.m. - 9:50 a.m., Salon GH

Chris Jett, University of West Georgia


Black male students’ mathematics experiences have gained traction in the research literature. The majority of this scholarship has employed a critical race theoretical perspective. Moreover, discussions about critical race theory have entered into mainstream discourse, and these debates have implications for mathematics education. In this talk, I will draw upon my critical race praxis to provide an overview of scholarship regarding the plight of Black male students in mathematics contexts. I will also share evidence-based practices and recommendations that seek to positively influence and ultimately empower Black male students in mathematics classrooms.


Dr. Christopher C. Jett is Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Computing and Mathematics at the University of West Georgia. His research examines Black male students’ mathematics and racialized experiences. He received the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) CAREER award, the 2019 Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) Early Career Award, and a 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). His scholarship has been published in the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, Investigations in Mathematics Learning, and the Journal of Higher Education, and he is co-editor of Critical Race Theory in Mathematics Education (Routledge, 2019).



MAA Invited Address

Synchronization in Nature

Friday, August 5, 11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m., Salon GH

Steve Strogatz, Cornell University and National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)


Every night along the tidal rivers of Malaysia, thousands of male fireflies congregate in the mangrove trees and flash on and off in unison. This display extends for miles along the river and occurs spontaneously; it does not require any leader or cue from the environment. Similar feats of synchronization occur throughout the natural world and in our own bodies. This lecture will provide an introduction to the simplest mathematical model of collective synchronization. Amazing videos of synchronous fireflies and London’s wobbly Millennium Bridge will also be shown.


Steven Strogatz is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University. He works on nonlinear dynamics and complex systems applied to physics, biology, and the social sciences. According to Google Scholar, Strogatz’s 1998 paper “Collective dynamics of small-world networks,” co-authored with his former student Duncan Watts, ranks among the top 100 most-cited scientific papers of all time. His latest book, Infinite Powers, was a New York Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the 2019 Royal Society Science Book Prize. Follow him on Twitter at @stevenstrogatz.


MAA Invited Address

Teaching Mathematics for the Future: Centering Student Thinking to Diversify STEM

Saturday, August 6, 11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m., Salon GH

Karen Marrongelle, National Science Foundation


Research and reports over the past three decades have highlighted the gaps in diversifying the nation’s STEM workforce and the critical need to reach and foster STEM talent. The most recent data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics projects that close to four million additional individuals are needed by the year 2030 for the STEM workforce to be representative of the U.S. population and reflect the full diversity of our nation. Mathematics is a critical inflection point on many students’ journeys into, through, and out of STEM. Several decades of research on teaching mathematics have pointed to those characteristics of classrooms that can make a difference in keeping students on their pathways to their STEM goals, and what can deter them. I will set the national context, discuss findings from research on mathematics teaching, and unpack obstacles to implementation and the impacts on students.


Dr. Karen Marrongelle is the Chief Operating Officer of the National Science Foundation, where she oversees operations of the $8.5B federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering. Previously, she served as Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation for Education and Human Resources (EHR). She led the EHR Directorate in supporting research that enhances learning and teaching to achieve excellence in U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

Prior to joining NSF, Marrongelle was Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Portland State University and Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, where she oversaw 24 departments and programs across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

In addition to her work as Dean, Marrongelle has served as a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Portland State University since 2001. Prior to her appointment as dean, she held positions as the Vice Chancellor for Academic Strategies and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Standards and Collaboration with the Oregon University System.

From 2007-2009, Marrongelle served on a rotation as a program officer at NSF and led numerous grants, collaborating with researchers nationally and internationally to improve undergraduate mathematics education and K-12 mathematics professional development.

Marrongelle has a bachelor's degree in mathematics and philosophy from Albright College, a master's degree in mathematics from Lehigh University and a doctorate in mathematics education from the University of New Hampshire.


MAA James R.C. Leitzel Lecture

Parking Functions: Choose Your Own Adventure

Friday, August 5, 9:00 a.m. - 9:50 a.m., Salon GH

Pamela Harris, Williams College


Consider a parking lot consisting of \(n\) consecutive parking spots along a one-way street labeled \(1\) to \(n\). Suppose \(n\) cars want to park one at a time in the parking lot and each car has a preferred parking spot. Each car coming into the lot initially tries to park in its preferred spot. However, if a car's preferred spot is already occupied, then it will proceed forward in the street parking in the next available spot. Since the parking lot is along a one-way street, it is not guaranteed that every car will be able to park before driving past the parking lot. If we let \(a_i\) denote the preference of car \(i\) and all of the cars are able to park under these conditions, then the preference list \((a_1,a_2, … , an)\) is called a parking function of length \(n\). For example, \((1,2,4,2,2)\) is a parking function, but \((1,2,2,5,5)\) is not (you should convince yourself of this!). In this talk we provide an answer to the question of how many parking functions of length n there are and we consider many new avenues for research stemming from this enumerative question.


Dr. Pamela E. Harris serves as Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Faculty Fellow of the Davis Center and the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Williams College. Her research interests are in algebra and combinatorics, particularly as these subjects relate to the representation theory of Lie algebras. She cohost the podcast Mathematically Uncensored, serves as President of Lathisms: Latinxs and Hispanics in the Mathematical Sciences, and has co-authored a book series on Advocating for Students of Color in Mathematics. For fun she likes to (dead)lift heavy things and spend time with her partner Jamual, daughter Akira, and three dogs: Bubba (American bulldog), Ginger (black lab), and Scottie (beagle mix).

She is Faculty Fellow of the Davis Center and the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Associate Professor of Mathematics at Williams College and President and Co-Founder of Lathisms: Latinxs and Hispanics in the Mathematical Sciences. She is a co-author of Asked And Answered: Dialogues On Advocating For Students of Color in Mathematics and Practices and Policies: Advocating for Students of Color in Mathematics.


AWM-MAA Etta Zuber Falconer Lecture

Continuity of Surfaces

Thursday, August 4, 2:00 p.m. - 2:50 p.m., Salon GH

Suzanne Weekes, Executive Director of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM)


Rather than thinking of interfaces as barriers that must never be crossed, we look at the wonderful opportunities and outcomes that come about when we bridge two states and embrace a harmonious coupling.

With this mindset of seeking continuity at interfaces, I consider [Material 1 | Material 2] wave propagation through materials that vary in space and time, [Academia | Industry] successful programs between universities and industry, and [Intellectual Merit | Broadening Participation] ensuring the progress of mathematics and its applications.


Suzanne Weekes is the Executive Director of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). She holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Indiana University, a PhD in Mathematics and Scientific Computing from the University of Michigan. She is also Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Her research work has been in numerical methods for differential equations including applications to spatio-temporal composites and cancer growth. She has been involved in various initiatives connecting the academic mathematics community to mathematics and statistics work done in business, industry, and government and directed the Center for Industrial Mathematics and Statistics at WPI for many years.

Dr. Weekes was the recipient of the 2019 Humphreys Award for Mentoring from the AWM and received a 2020 Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics from the MAA. She co-directs the national PIC Math (Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences) Program, and she was a founding co-director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Undergraduate Program (MSRI-UP). She is on the Board of Governors of TPSE Math (Transforming Post-Secondary Education in Mathematics) and has also served the mathematical sciences community through her work on various committees of the professional societies.


Chan Stanek Lecture for Students


Thurdsay, August 4, 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m., Salon GH

Jeanette Shakalli, Panamanian Foundation for the Promotion of Mathematics


After earning my PhD in Mathematics, I knew that my career would follow a different path than academia or industry. It wasn't until many years later that I finally discovered what my true purpose in life is. In this talk, I will share my story starting from the very beginning as a young kid who loved eating pasta and opening Christmas presents to a woman whose dream about sharing her passion for mathematics with others came true. It brings me so much joy to have created a safe space where kids and adults can have the opportunity to learn mathematics by playing games and solving puzzles. Join me and discover the beauty of FUNDAPROMAT!


Born in Panama City, Panama, Dr. Shakalli obtained her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Chemistry from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 and her PhD in Mathematics from Texas A&M University in 2012. From 2012 until 2019, she worked at the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (SENACYT) of Panama. Dr. Shakalli is the Executive Director of the Panamanian Foundation for the Promotion of Mathematics (FUNDAPROMAT), a private non-profit Foundation whose mission is to promote the study of mathematics in the Republic of Panama and all over the world. Since 2017, she has been the International Mathematical Union (IMU)’s Committee for Women in Mathematics (CWM) Ambassador for Panama. Dr. Shakalli currently serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors of the Panamanian Association for the Advancement of Science (APANAC), Program Committee Chair of the Special Interest Group of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) on Recreational Mathematics (SIGMAA REC), and member of the Advisory Board of the Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation.


Christine Darden Lecture

Determining Metrics Using Lengths of Curves

Saturday, August 6, 9:00 a.m. - 9:50 a.m., Salon GH

Marissa Kawehi Loving, University of Wisconsin-Madison


There are many different metrics that you can put on a surface. So, how can you tell when two metrics on a surface are the same or different? What is the least amount of information you need to answer this question? One approach is to keep track of the lengths of curves on your surface, and then use this data to determine your surface's metric. This is more formally known as “length spectral rigidity”. In this talk, we will explore length spectral rigidity questions for both flat and hyperbolic surfaces. I will discuss both my own solo work as well as joint work with Tarik Aougab, Max Lahn, Nick Miller, and Sunny Yang Xiao (in various configurations). This talk will be accessible to a wide audience of both students and faculty.


Marissa Kawehi Loving is an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Hale Assistant Professor in the School of Math at Georgia Tech. She graduated with her PhD in mathematics in August 2019 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she was supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and an Illinois Graduate College Distinguished Fellowship. Marissa was born and raised in Hawai'i where she completed her B.S. in Computer Science and B.A. in Mathematics at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo. She is the first Native Hawaiian woman to earn a PhD in mathematics. She is also Black, Puerto Rican, and Japanese. Her research interests are in geometry/topology, especially mapping class groups of surfaces (of both finite and infinite type). Marissa is also deeply invested in making the mathematics community a more equitable place. Some of her work includes mentoring undergraduate research (through programs such as [email protected], MSRI-UP, and the Georgia Tech School of Math’s REU) and co-organizing initiatives like SUBgroups and paraDIGMS.


Martin Gardner Lecture

The History and Future of Logic Puzzles

Saturday, August 6, 2:00 p.m. - 2:50 p.m., Salon GH

Jason Rosenhouse, James Madison University


A hallmark of Martin Gardner's writing was his ability to use games and puzzles to illuminate broader themes in mathematics. In honor of this aspect of his work, we will tell the history of logic by discussing some of its most interesting puzzles. For example, Lewis Carroll saw logic puzzles as a device for illuminating subtle questions in Aristotelian logic. Later, Raymond Smullyan took a similar view with regard to propositional and mathematical logic. We will also look to the future by considering the opportunities afforded to puzzlers by the current interest in nonclassical logics.


Jason Rosenhouse received his PhD in mathematics in 2000 from Dartmouth College, specializing in algebraic graph theory. Currently he is a professor of mathematics at James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He has published nearly twenty research papers in combinatorics, number theory, recreational mathematics, and science education. He is the author or editor of nine books, on subjects including the Monty Hall problem and evolution versus creationism. With Laura Taalman, he is the author of Taking Sudoku Seriously: The Math Behind the World's Most Popular Pencil Puzzle, which received the 2012 PROSE Award for popular mathematics from the Association of American Publishers. Most recently he is the author of The Failures of Mathematical Anti-Evolutionism, published by Cambridge University Press The present talk is based on his book Games for Your Mind: The History and Future of Logic Puzzles, published by Princeton University Press. He is currently the Editor of Mathematics Magazine, published by the MAA. When not teaching or doing math, he enjoys playing chess, cooking, and reading locked room mysteries.


NAM David Harold Blackwell Lecture

When Information Theory Meets Algebra and Topology

Friday, August 5, 2:00 p.m. - 2:50 p.m., Salon GH

Tai-Danae Bradley, SandboxAQ


In recent years, a few surprising connections have arisen between information theory, algebra, and topology. This talk is in a similar vein. We will discuss a certain correspondence between Shannon entropy and continuous functions on topological simplices that satisfy an equation akin to the Leibniz rule. The correspondence relies heavily on a particular operad, which is an abstract tool with origins in algebraic topology. Explicitly, the theorem gives a way to think about Shannon entropy from a pure mathematical perspective: it can be thought of as a derivation of the operad of probabilities. A broad goal for this talk is to unwind this result and share why one might find the confluence of these ideas interesting.


Tai-Danae Bradley is a research mathematician at SandboxAQ and a visiting research professor of mathematics at The Master’s University. She earned a PhD in mathematics from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2020 and is the creator of Math3ma, a blog that seeks to distill higher mathematics in accessible ways. She is also a former co-host of the PBS YouTube channel “Infinite Series” and coauthor of the book Topology: A Categorical Approach. Her research interests include category theory, quantum physics, and machine intelligence.


Student Activity Speaker

How to Turn Your Knots from Blah into Fabulous

Friday, August 5, 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m., Salon GH

Allison Henrich, Seattle University


Are you tired of tying boring old shoelace knots? Frustrated with messy knots in your spaghetti that are impossible to undo? Wish you could make friends and influence people with your amazing knot-tying ability? Then come join us in the Student Activity Session! You’ll learn to harness the power of mathematics and the fourth dimension to unlock the secrets of knots. Discover how to make tangled up messes magically disappear and make knots apparate out of thin air. But wait! There’s more! Impress your friends and family with fancy phrases, like “persistent tangle” and “Reidemeister moves.” Make your rivals wish they had come to MathFest 2022! Come to the Student Activity Session, and all your wildest dreams will come true.


Allison Henrich is a Professor of Mathematics at Seattle University. She enjoys collaborating with students on research, especially on problems related to knots and games. She coauthored the books An Interactive Introduction to Knot Theory and A Mathematician’s Practical Guide to Mentoring Undergraduate Research, and she coedited Living Proof: Stories of Resilience Along the Mathematical Journey as well as the Encyclopedia of Knot Theory. She is currently working with collaborators on writing two more books. The first is a guidebook for math majors (stay tuned!), and the second is a book on the mathematics of rope magic and other knotty puzzles. Allison is also the editor-elect of the newsmagazine MAA FOCUS. In her “spare time,” Allison enjoys spending time with her husband and their two hilarious little kids.