AWM at MathFest 2017

Invited Paper Session: No Longer Hidden Figures: Women Mathematicians Share Their Path to the Profession Abstracts

Friday, July 28, 2:00–5:00 p.m., Salon A-3

  • Organizers:
    • Jacqueline Jensen-Vallin, Lamar University
    • Talithia Williams, Harvey Mudd College
    • Alissa Crans, Loyola Marymount Univeristy

The recent blockbuster hit, Hidden Figures, shines light on the talented group of African American women mathematicians that helped lead the United States in the race to become the first country to put a man on the moon. Their passion for mathematical excellence and desire to make meaningful contributions to the greater society allowed them to persevere in circumstances that were not always welcoming. In this series of talks, the speakers will take us on a journey from their budding mathematical interest to their individual paths to the profession, including any stumbling blocks along the way. Our hope is that these talks provide the audience with concrete experiences and ideas that can be implemented in and out of the classroom as we all seek to broaden the participation of women and underrepresented groups in mathematics.

2:00–2:20 p.m. The “Firsts” in STEM: Modern Day ‘Hidden Figures’

Talitha Washington, Howard University

In a segregated courtroom, Mary Jackson had to petition a Virginia court to get permission to enroll in graduate-level courses in mathematics and physics at an all-white high school. In the movie, Jackson’s plea to the judge passionately conveyed the significance of being the “first” . Mary Jackson eventually became the first African American female aeronautical engineer at NASA and in the world. This presentation will highlight many “firsts” who are blazing trails in STEM fields, including the presenter, Dr. Washington, who was the first African American to earn a PhD in mathematics from the University of Connecticut in 2001.

2:30–2:50 p.m. A Quest to Cure Cancer with Math

Shelby Wilson Morehouse College

My mathematical journey has been shaped and molded by some incredible women in the mathematical sciences. This begins with my grandmother, mathematician and educator, Etta Falconer, and continues with many of the women included in this session. In this talk, I will highlight my journey to becoming a “Mathematical Biologist” and the women who helped me get here. I will discuss how my childhood love of mathematics came together with my interest in medicine to create a career path that I am passionate about.

3:00–3:20 p.m. Young, Mathematically Gifted, and Black

Candice Price University of San Diego

In February 2017, Erica Graham, Raegan Higgins, Shelby Wilson and myself created the website “Mathematically Gifted and Black” to highlight the contributions and service of Black Mathematicians to academia, education, government industry and society. This website hit on the importance of representation, knowing OUR history and knowing OUR impact. In this presentation, I will tell you about my mathematical journey through the lens of reflection of my participation in the creation of the website

3:30–3:50 p.m. A Path, Thus Far. . .

Suzanne Weekes Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Suzanne Weekes is a Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and co-director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Undergraduate Program (MSRI-UP) and the Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences (PIC Math) program. She will share a bit about her journey, thus far, as an academic mathematician.

4:00–4:20 p.m. Life Has Critical Points

Emille Davie Lawrence University of San Francisco

As mathematicians, we are all familiar with what happens at critical points of a function. At a critical point, we either find ourselves reaching the top of a summit, the bottom of a valley, or perhaps a point where we could go up or down. I will share with you a few of the critical points in my life and how they have shaped who I am.