Career Perspectives in Mathematics Lecture Series

Lucas Sabalka

Lucas Sabalka

"Using Math to Save Lives"

Thursday, February 21, 2019
5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Avery Hall 351

Lucas Sabalka grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and attended UNL as an undergraduate, graduating in 2002. He earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Following his Ph.D., he held post-doctorates at the University of California-Davis and the State University of New York, Binghamton, and then took a tenure-track position at Saint Louis University. After a year there, he decided to leave academia and move back to his home town to work at Ocuvera, where he still works. He is now a computer vision specialist and grant coordinator.

“I think of mathematicians as problem solvers. I’ve been lucky enough in my career to be able to think about plenty of interesting problems. I’ll talk about a few of them, including predicting algal blooms in lakes, modeling the efficiency of next-generation solar cells, and creating 3-D scans of people for form-fitted braces. My current job is with a company called Ocuvera, where the math I do is used to prevent people from falling in the hospital, literally saving lives. My job is to create and train the algorithms we use to find and monitor each patient and teach the computer what behavior increases a patient’s risk of falling. If the algorithms think that a patient is doing something dangerous, our system sends a live streaming video to nurses so they can see what’s happening and respond appropriately: see that the alert is a false alarm, communicate to the patient that they’re on their way, or get to the patient as fast as possible.”

For more information contact Alexandra Seceleanu.

The Career Perspectives Lecture Series is funded by The Bares Family Fund for Excellence in Mathematics.



Previous Career Perspectives Lecturers


Tina Sposato

"From UNL Math major to Silicon Desert Engineer"—March 8, 2018

Tina Sposato grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and attended UNL as a math major. After graduating from Nebraska in 1997 she attended Texas A&M University and earned her master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. After earning her master’s degree, she took a job with Intel Corporation in the process engineering department of lithography at their New Mexico Fab for microprocessors. She has worked for Intel’s development fabs in Santa Clara, California, and Portland, Oregon, doing process development for the next generation of microprocessors or flash memory in the department of lithography. She currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona, and works for Intel’s yield department as a staff engineer for Intel’s microprocessor fab there. Tina will discuss her transition from UNL to Intel, and how she always knew she wanted to find a career that used math. She has two beautiful children Sarah (6) and Thomas (3). Tina loves to hike, snowshoe, travel the world, inline skate, and spend time with her family.



Lisa Amen

"Math in Health Care and Technology"—February 23, 2017

A Lincoln native, Lisa Amen graduated from Lincoln East High School in 2008 and matriculated at UNL the same year. With a major in Math and a minor in Spanish, Lisa graduated with High Distinction from UNL in 2012 and moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to start a career with Epic, a health care software company. After four years with Epic, Lisa moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in March of 2016 to work as a Project Manager with Stanford Health Care. Lisa explained the core functions of the work she does and how she applies her background in math on a daily basis. She also provided the resources and processes she used to find and secure positions with Epic and Stanford Health Care.



Mary Hegemann

"From Farm to Finance: Embrace Your Unique Strengths"—November 10, 2016

Mary Hegemann, FSA, MAAA, is a Principal and one of five owners of Wakely Consulting Group, which has 85 employees nationwide. She has over 20 years of experience as a healthcare actuary. Mary manages Wakely’s Denver and Minneapolis offices, while living in Colorado. She has extensive experience with public programs including Medicare, Medicaid, ACA reform, and safety net programs for low-income populations. Mary has been the lead consulting actuary for Robert Wood Johnson, educating states regarding the financial implications of the ACA. She also provides budget projections for state Medicaid agencies, actuarial certifications for Medicare products to CMS, and consults clients in the development of benefits and calculation of premiums for commercial insurance products. She was raised on a farm outside of Belvidere, Nebraska, attended Hebron High School (now Thayer Central), and graduated with degrees in Actuarial Science and Mathematics from the University of Nebraska in 1996. She has lived in Colorado since 1996 but remains an avid Cornhusker, often sporting a cornhead on Saturdays. Her greatest successes include having a happy marriage of 21 years and raising two nearly-grown children.



Kamara Wright

"In Pursuit of Logic and Happiness"—February 18, 2016

Kamara Wright graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and English. Since, her career has taken her to Maryland where she is an Operations Research Analyst in the NAVAIR Cost Department. Wright came to UNL as a freshman in the fall of 2008. It was only logical that, with 17 UNL Math credits already under her belt, she would major in Mathematics. Deciding to add an English major—that was for fun. She didn’t know then that her English courses would teach her numerous lessons about logic, and her Math courses would be quite the adventure. Since joining NAVAIR, Wright has developed her cost estimation and analysis skills while working for several platforms and programs. As a participant in the Engineer and Scientist Development Program, she also received training in leadership and communication. She has found with each new assignment that challenges do arise in bringing logic to light, proving that sometimes logic itself is the adventure.



Brian Bares

"From Mathematics to Investments: Lessons Learned in Building a Career in Investment Management"—October 23, 2005

Brian Bares is the founder of Bares Capital Management, Inc. His firm manages $1.5 billion in institutional assets in concentrated long-only investment strategies. Bares serves as the firm's President and Chief Investment Officer. He also serves on the investment advisory committee for the Missionary Society of St. Columban and is an external advisor for the MBA Investment Fund at The University of Texas at Austin. Bares is the author of The Small-Cap Advantage, published in 2011 by John Wiley & Sons. Mr. Bares holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Nebraska. He has also held the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation since 2000. He resides in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three sons. Bares shared his insights and stories from his transition from undergraduate mathematics major to entrepreneur and institutional investment manager. His discussion recounted lessons and decision points from his career and informed students about preparing for a transition into investment management and related fields.