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MAA Distinguished Lecture Series

The MAA is proud to relaunch the Distinguished Lecture Series (funded by the Paul R. and Virginia P. Halmos Endowment Fund) - now in a virtual format! The lectures feature some of the foremost experts within the field of mathematics, known for their ability to make current mathematical ideas accessible to non-specialists. The presentations provide a fabulous and fun learning opportunity for both professionals and students, as well as anyone interested in learning more about current trends in mathematics and the relationship between mathematics and broader scientific, engineering, and technological endeavors.

Abstracts and speaker biographies will appear on this page as lectures are scheduled.

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Upcoming Lectures

 

Michael Lopez - June 7, 2022

7pm E.T.

"Using Data to Optimize the Rules of the National Football League"

Each offseason, the National Football League considers a bevy of rules proposals based on factors such as competitiveness, officiating, and health and safety. Using case studies from recent seasons, we explore how the league’s Football Data and Analytics team has supplemented these discussions using tools from statistics and mathematics.

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About the Speaker

Michael Lopez is a Senior Director of Football Data and Analytics at the National Football League. At the NFL, his work centers on how to use data to enhance the game of football. Michael earned a BA in Mathematics at Bates College, an MS in Statistics at UMass, and a PHD in Biostatistics at Brown, before teaching at Skidmore College for four years. He grew up the son of a long-time high school football coach, who once joked that his son’s 40-yard dash needed a calendar for timing because of how long it took.


Sara Del Valle - June 29, 2022

7pm E.T.

"How Can We Use Mathematics to Model Human Behavior?"

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the important role human behavior plays in the spread of infectious diseases and how individual decision making can have an effect at the aggregate level. In this talk, I will discuss how epidemiological models can integrate emergent behavioral dynamics and their impact on disease spread.

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About the Speaker

Sara Del Valle is a senior scientist in the Information Systems and Modeling Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She leads a multidisciplinary team focused on detecting, understanding, and forecasting infectious diseases using heterogeneous data streams and mathematical, computational, and statistical models. Her work has been covered in several top media outlets such as National Geographic, NPR Science Friday, Popular Mechanics, and the New York Times. Outside of work, she enjoys skiing, yoga, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.


Previous Lectures

 

Pamela E. Harris - January 27, 2022

7pm E.T.

"Multiplex Juggling Sequences and Kostant's Partition Function"

Multiplex juggling sequences are generalizations of juggling sequences (describing throws of balls at discrete heights) that specify an initial and terminal configuration of balls and allow for multiple balls at any particular discrete height. Kostant’s partition function is a vector function that counts the number of ways one can express a vector as a nonnegative integer linear combination of a fixed set of vectors. What do these two families of combinatorial objects have in common? Attend this talk to find out!

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About the Speaker

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. She cohost the podcast Mathematically Uncensored and serves as President of Lathisms: Latinxs and Hispanics in the Mathematical Sciences. Her research interests are in algebra and combinatorics, particularly as these subjects relate to the representation theory of Lie algebras. 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).


Alexander Diaz-Lopez - February 23, 2022

7PM E.T.

"Encryption Methods: Past, Present, and Future"

The history of cryptography, the study of techniques for secure communication, is filled with intellectual discoveries, ethical dilemmas, and massive challenges. In this talk, we will discuss some of the most important encryption methods of the past and present and then chat about what a post-quantum future might hold.

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About the Speaker

Alexander Diaz-Lopez is an award-winning teacher and math researcher currently working at Villanova University. Born and raised in the archipelago of Puerto Rico, Alexander attended the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez and then moved to the University of Notre Dame to obtain his PhD in Mathematics. He has been involved in organizing several initiatives such as Lathisms, Villanova’s Co-MaStER program, and MAA’s Virtual Programs, among others.


Nathan Carter - March 23, 2022

7PM E.T.

"Mathematics in Data Science"

The exploding field of data science has some unexpected connections to pure mathematics, from simple ideas like functions and relations to more advanced ideas like proof writing.  Those connections will be our on-ramp to two fascinating open research questions in machine learning.

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About the Speaker

Nathan Carter works in the interplay between mathematics and computer science.  He mostly writes software and books, such as Visual Group Theory (MAA, 2009), Introduction to the Mathematics of Computer Graphics (MAA, 2016), and Data Science for Mathematicians (editor, Taylor & Francis, 2020).  His primary interests are logic, mathematical visualization, and data science.  He is currently serving as a Wilder Teaching Professor at Bentley University near Boston.