Happy International Day for Women and Girls in Science!
To celebrate, we are featuring four inspirational Canadian women in mathematics!
Dr. Matilde Lalín
Matilde is the recipient of the 2022 Krieger-Nelson Prize, which celebrates the outstanding contributions in the area of mathematical research by a female mathematician. She is an accomplished mathematician with a long list of contributions to mathematics.
Matilde’s main research interests are Number Theory and related areas, and her work focusses on L-functions. She has been studying relations between special values of L-functions and Mahler measure, a height that can be defined on polynomials, and contributing to the understanding of very general statements such as the Beilinson conjectures. She is known for her use of innovative techniques that allow proof of identities between multi-variable Mahler measures using regulators and higher Bloch groups. Matilde is also interested in distribution questions around families of L-functions and their behaviour at central points. It is worth noting that she was involved (with David and Florea) in the proof of a positive proportion of non-vanishing for cubic L-functions.
Matilde is currently a professor at the Université de Montréal and a member of the Centre de recherches mathématiques (CRM). In 2019, Matilde was elected the Vice-President (Quebec) of the Canadian Mathematical Society. Dr. Lalín has been on the board of directors of BIRS since 2019 and is a member of five editorial boards. She is also involved with several national and international committees whose aim is to encourage the participation of women and other minorities in mathematics.
Dr. Stacey Smith?
The unique spelling of Stacey’s surname is not the only thing that sets her apart from other mathematicians – She is an expert on zombies, which is a surprisingly useful skill to have, despite our current lack of zombie apocalypse. In 2009, she co-authored a paper detailing a mathematical model of a zombie outbreak that attracted a storm of media attention. Yet this research has more applications in reality than are readily apparent. The researchers had to create a model for an infection outbreak without relying on any existing models, an important practice in preparation for the outbreak of new diseases and epidemics. “By modelling zombies, we learn about the process of dealing with unfamiliar biology,” says Stacey.
Stacey has never been interested in simple arithmetic, and says “I still can’t figure out the tip in a restaurant.” Though her interest in mathematics was originally piqued in high school when math class moved beyond calculations to more abstract concepts, it is the power of applied mathematics to solve real-world problems that has held her attention. Using what Stacey describes as the “language of math,” you can translate a biological problem into mathematical terms and create a mathematical model. “You can then analyze your model and come to a mathematical conclusion, which can then be translated back into the biology,” says Stacey. “This conclusion may be something that wouldn’t be obvious just by thinking through in the real world, but translating it into mathematics gives you access to logic and rigour.”
The zombie paper evolved from Stacey’s ongoing research into diseases. Her primary research focus lies in HIV modelling. Along with her research team from the University of Ottawa, she developed a mathematical model to examine how best to eliminate HIV/AIDS worldwide. She has also published research on the importance of adherence to HIV treatments, and possible perverse outcomes of HIV vaccines.
Dr. Lucy Campbell
Lucy Campbell is a Canadian mathematician of Barbadian and Ghanaian descent. She obtained her PhD in Applied Mathematics from McGill University and is an Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics at Carleton University in Ottawa. Her research interests are in differential equations and numerical analysis with applications in geophysical fluid dynamics. She uses mathematical models to study the interactions of the different types of waves that occur in the atmosphere and their effects on weather and climate. Dr. Campbell is active in the atmospheric science and applied mathematics communities in Canada; she served on the Board of Directors and was the Treasurer of the Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society and received the CAIMS 2019 Arthur Beaumont Distinguished Service Award. At present she is on the Editorial Board of the Canadian Journal of Mathematics and the Canadian Mathematical Bulletin.
Dr. Campbell is from a mathematical family; her father Merville O’Neale Campbell was a Barbadian mathematician who did research in group theory and taught at the University of the West Indies for many years. Her mother, a teacher, recognized and encouraged her interest in mathematics from a very early age.
Dr. Malabika Pramanik
“Malabika Pramanik’s research lies in mathematical analysis, specifically in the areas of harmonic analysis, geometric measure theory, complex variables, and partial differential equations. Her work focuses on exploring finer structures in mathematical ensembles involving sets and functions, in particular on fractals. One recurrent theme in her work is the search for patterns in seemingly random objects and their connections with quantifiable properties of these objects, such as regularity, clustering, smoothness or existence of arithmetic-geometric structures.
Malabika received her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley (2001). After short-term positions at the University of Wisconsin and Caltech she joined UBC in 2006. She is the 2015-16 winner of the Ruth I. Michler Prize of the Association for Women in Mathematics, the 2016 Krieger-Nelson Prize of the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) and a Killam Research Prize (2017) from the UBC Faculty of Science. In her role as Director of the Banff International Research Station (BIRS), and as organizer of ongoing programs such as “Two weeks in Vancouver – a summer school for undergraduate women in math” and “Diversity in mathematics”, she is actively engaged in initiatives that promote representation of women and minority groups in STEM fields.”