Networking Dinner - Table Host Assignments

Table # Host Host Biography


Christine Darden, NASA Langley Research Center, retired
Christine Mann Darden, the youngest of five children and the daughter of an insurance agent and a teacher, is a native of Monroe, North Carolina, and a graduate of Allen High School, a United Methodist boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education from Hampton Institute (now University) in Hampton, Virginia; a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from Virginia State College (now University) in Petersburg, Virginia; and a D.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from George Washington University in Washington, DC. Darden also holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in Management from Simmons College Graduate School of Management in Boston. After nearly 40 years of service, Dr. Darden retired as a member of The Senior Executive Service in March 2007 from NASA Langley Research Center, where she was hired in 1967 as a Computer/Data Analyst in the Re-Entry Physics Branch. Her final assignment at Langley was as Director of the Office of Strategic Communications and Education (OSCE). In that position she was responsible for the Center’s external and internal communications, community outreach, governmental relations, and educational outreach. Prior to the OSCE position, which Darden assumed in October 2004, she served as the Langley Assistant Director for Planning, responsible for the Langley strategic planning process, and oversight of the Center’s delivery on commitments. Darden also previously served as Director of the Aero Performing Center Program Management Office (APCPMO) where her office had oversight of NASA Langley’s work in Rotorcraft, Efficient Engine Technology, Computational Fluid Dynamics, and Air Traffic Management. She also served as a Senior Program Manager in NASA’s High Speed Research (HSR) Program Office, and for nearly 30 years as an internationally known researcher in high-speed aerodynamics and sonic boom research. Darden was recently included in the book “Hidden Figures” by author Margot Shetterly as one who stood on the shoulders of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, NASA “Human Computers.” As members of the segregated West Computers, they contributed to the NASA space program in the early 1960s and were featured in the 2016 Twentieth Century Fox movie of the same name. Darden and her husband of 55 years, Walter, have three daughters, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.


Zhilan Feng, Purdue University
Professor of Mathematics Zhilan Feng studied mathematics at Jilin and Arizona State Universities, where she was a doctoral student of Horst Thieme. She was a postdoctoral and visiting fellow with Carlos Castillo-Chavez and Simon Levin at Cornell and Princeton Universities, respectively, before joining the faculty in the Department of Mathematics at Purdue University, where she became full Professor in 2005. Her research includes mathematical modeling of ecology and epidemiology using ordinary, partial, and integro-differential equations. Many of her research projects were partially supported by grants from NSF, CDC, James S. McDonnell Foundation, and Showalter Trust. Feng has supervised 15 Ph.D. students at Purdue University. She has co-authored two books and published more than 100 papers on mathematical biology and applied mathematics. She is currently an editor for the Journal of Theoretical Biology, Mathematical Biosciences, Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering, SIAM Journal of Applied Mathematics, and Journal of Biological Dynamics.


Margaret Holen, Princeton University
After earning a Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton University, Margaret Holen pursued a career in finance, primarily at Goldman Sachs as a partner with a focus on data and analytics. She worked across the firm’s business units and with its clients across many industries on systematic approaches to decision-making and risk management. Holen gained extensive experience hiring, managing, and mentoring diverse technical teams. Currently, she serves as a Lecturer in the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering at Princeton, works with start-up technology companies as an investor and advisor, and serves as a trustee for non-profits, including the Math Sciences Research Institute (MSRI). She has most recently focused on data science and machine learning, where her activities span teaching, research supervision, and investing.


Maia Averett, Mills College
Maia Averett is an Associate Professor at Mills College with a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. Her area of mathematical specialty is the wobbly world of topology. She started off as a homotopy theorist, but lately is focused on topological data analysis. Since finding mathematics as her passion relatively late in college, she’s made mathematical outreach a central objective in her career. When she’s not teaching, researching, programming, outreaching, or otherwise mathematically engaged, Averett enjoys hiking with her dogs and organizing for progress with various political groups.


Carol Meyers, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Carol Meyers has worked as a mathematician at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory since receiving her Ph.D. in operations research from MIT in 2006. Her expertise is in the areas of integer and linear programming optimization, risk analysis, decision theory, and discrete event simulation. She has worked primarily in the application areas of energy grid planning, counterterrorism, and nuclear enterprise modeling – diverse areas that reflect the breadth of her interests. Most recently she spent approximately18 months leading program management and project controls efforts on a $1 billion program, before returning to her native love of modeling. She also has two sons (ages 3 and 7), and she leads the new moms group at her workplace.


Candice Price, University of San Diego
Candice Price earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from California State University, Chico; her master’s in mathematics from San Francisco State University; and her doctorate from the University of Iowa. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of San Diego. Her research area is primarily in the area of DNA topology, but she is also working in various areas of Mathematical Modeling including using social network theory to study evolutionary success and issues around gerrymandering. Her service mission statement is to create and contribute to programs that broaden the participation of underrepresented groups by focusing on strong mentoring and research networks. Thus, she is interested in and participates in programs that promote broadening participation in the mathematical sciences. She is on the organizing committee for Underrepresented Students in Topology and Algebra Research Symposium (USTARS). In 2017, she, along with three other faculty, created the website that features profiles of black mathematicians:


Alicia Prieto-Langarica, Youngstown State University
Alicia Prieto-Langarica is Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Youngstown State University. She received her undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2008 and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2012. Prieto-Langarica’s research is in the intersection of mathematics and biology, specifically problems related to the medical field. Recently she has been interested in learning data science techniques and how they can help explain problems in the social sciences.


Tina Sposato, Intel
Christina (Tina) Sposato graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University. After she graduated, she started her career at Intel as a litho process engineer at Fab11 in New Mexico and eventually moved to Intel’s semiconductor fab in Phoenix. She is a staff engineer in the yield department at F32 in Arizona. She uses her math skills to analyze data to improve the yield of Intel’s 22 nm and 14 nm semiconductor processes. When is she not busy working, she enjoys traveling, exercising, hiking, reading, and spending time with her husband and two young children, Sarah and Thomas.


Emily Witt, University of Kansas
Emily Witt is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas and works in the field of commutative algebra, which stems from the study of polynomial equations. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan and held postdoctoral positions at the University of Minnesota, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, and the University of Utah. Recently, Witt directed an REU in number theory and cryptography serving students from underrepresented groups. She is also active in several programs through the Association for Women in Mathematics and is a mentor through the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences.


Brani Vidakovic, National Science Foundation DMS
Branislav (Brani) Vidakovic is serving as a rotating Program Director for Statistics at the Directorate for Mathematical Sciences (DMS) at the National Science Foundation (NSF). This is his first year at NSF. In addition to the statistics program, Vidakovic is involved with several other NSF-DMS programs (Infrastructure, CDS&E, Big Data, Big Ideas). Vidakovic holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mathematics from the University of Belgrade, and a Ph.D. in Statistics from Purdue University. He comes to NSF from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is jointly appointed as a Professor in Schools of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. His areas of research include Wavelets, Bayesian Inference, and Biostatistics. NOTE: If Vidakovic is not able to attend, Jim Lewis will host Table 10; please see his bio below.


Jim Lewis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and former Acting Assistant Director of National Science Foundation EHR
Jim Lewis took a leave of absence from UNL from 2015-18 to serve as deputy assistant director – and then acting assistant director – of NSF’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources. EHR aims to support excellence in STEM education across the U.S. and develop the next generation of STEM professionals. He also was co-chair of the P-12 Education Interagency Working Group, which coordinated STEM instructional opportunities across federal agencies. Lewis is currently the director of the UNL Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education, a Professor of Mathematics, and the director of STEM education research initiatives for the Office of Research and Economic Development.


Krystle Hinds, National Security Agency
Krystle Hinds is currently the Executive Assistant to the Chief of Mathematics Research at the National Security Agency. Since earning a master’s degree in Mathematics from Boston College, she has spent more than nine years at the NSA working as an Applied Research Mathematician and most recently as the Director of Mathematics Hiring. She obtained two bachelor’s degrees from Monmouth University, in Mathematics and Secondary Education. NOTE: If Hinds is not able to attend, please visit Table 22 of Erica Musgrave; see her bio below.


Angelica Babei, Dartmouth College
Angelica is a fifth-year graduate student at Dartmouth College studying algebraic number theory under Thomas R. Shemanske. She graduated in 2014 from Colgate University, with majors in Mathematics and German. Aside from math, she enjoys reading and writing fiction, cooking, and stargazing on warm summer nights.


Robin Belton, Montana State University
Robin Belton is a third-year graduate student at Montana State University studying applied topology, advised by Brittany Fasy. She received her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Kenyon College in 2016. Aside from math, Robin enjoys running, skiing, and playing the pipe organ.


Sarah Blackwell, University of Georgia
Sarah Blackwell is a third-year graduate student at the University of Georgia studying topology under David Gay. Sarah earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics at Saint Louis University in 2016, along with a minor in philosophy. She attended NCUWM during her junior year in undergrad and is thrilled to get the chance to return. Outside of math, Sarah enjoys running and writing.


Samantha Davies, University of Washington
Samantha (Sami) Davies is a third-year Ph.D. student at the University of Washington. She studies theoretical computer science and is advised by Thomas Rothvoss. Sami earned her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University. In her free time, she enjoys running and baking sourdough bread.


Aurora Marks, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Aurora Marks is a fourth-year graduate student studying geometric group theory with a computational emphasis under Susan Hermiller and Mark Brittenham. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from California State University, Sacramento in 2015. Aside from math, she enjoys crocheting, traveling, watching cooking and baking shows, and weightlifting.


Colleen Robichaux, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Colleen Robichaux is a third-year graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying Algebraic Combinatorics, advised by Alexander Yong. She received her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a concentration in secondary education at Louisiana State University in 2016. While she was an undergraduate, Colleen presented a poster at NCUWM and appreciated the opportunity to talk with women in the field. In her free time, Colleen enjoys cooking, swimming, and sewing.


Claudia Falcon, IPAM - UCLA
Claudia Falcon first attended NCUWM as an undergraduate student. Now, she is an Assistant Adjunct Professor (postdoc) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) working with Andrea Bertozzi on problems related to fluid dynamics. She obtained her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2016. She has performed undergraduate mentoring through summer research opportunities such as the RIPS program from UCLA IPAM and REU programs in the Mathematics Department. Her research interests allow her to have interdisciplinary collaborations with graduate and undergraduate students through research-focus courses.


Sylvia and Roger Wiegand, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Roger and Sylvia Wiegand joined the UNL Mathematics Department faculty in 1972, and for 17 years Sylvia was the only female professor in the Department. They are currently Emeriti (retired faculty). Both are Fellows of the American Mathematical Society (AMS). Sylvia received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1972. She remains active in research in commutative algebra and in activities to promote mathematics and to encourage women in mathematics. She is currently writing a book, “Integral Domains Inside Noetherian Power Series Rings: Constructions and Examples.” Sylvia was President of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) from 1997 to 1999. She serves or has served on the Council and various other committees of the AMS, as well as on several committees of the Mathematical Association of America and of AWM. An avid runner (although a slow one), Sylvia has run about 250 marathons and several ultras, including two 100-mile races. Her marathons include every state in the U.S. and 37 of the 40 Lincoln marathons. Sylvia’s grandmother Grace Chisholm Young was the first woman in Germany (in 1895) to receive a Ph.D. in any field; her father Laurence Chisholm Young and several other relatives are/were also mathematicians. The tradition of mathematics for women in the family and her father’s encouragement led to her interest in mathematics. Roger Wiegand received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1967 and taught at UNL from 1972 till his retirement in 2011. He served as Department Graduate Chair for many years. Roger is currently engaged in several commutative algebra research projects with faculty at UNL, Hamilton College, University of Virginia, University of Utah, Florida Atlantic University, Charles University (Prague), UAB Barcelona, and Golpayegan University (Iran). He is on the editorial boards of several mathematical journals including Journal of Commutative Algebra. He has been an avid rock climber since 1954 and has made several ascents of the Diamond on Longs Peak. From 1972 to the early 2000s he was a fairly serious recreational runner, completing a few dozen marathons (usually in under 3 hours) and several long-distance trail runs (including, in 1999, the Hardrock 100). Roger and Sylvia travel widely, and wherever they go they engage in their favorite non-mathematical pastimes: mountaineering, hiking, rock climbing (Roger), and long distance running (Sylvia). In April 2015, when a massive earthquake devastated Nepal, Sylvia and Roger had gone there to trek in the Himalayas and to organize and participate in a commutative algebra workshop and conference. The earthquake struck on the last day of the conference; the students then took care of the teachers in the aftermath of the earthquake. The earthquake experience led to “15 minutes of fame” for Roger and Sylvia as it was covered in the Lincoln paper and on TV. Their most recent international travels have taken them to France, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary and Nepal.


Alex Zupan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Dr. Alex Zupan is in his fourth year on the NCUWM Organizing Committee. His research is in geometry and topology. In particular, he studies 3- and 4-dimensional manifolds and the theory of knots in these dimensions. Before arriving at UNL, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and held an NSF postdoc position at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). He has supervised undergraduate research projects at both UNL and UT.


Yvonne Lai, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
UNL Assistant Professor Yuan-Juang Yvonne Lai’s research aims to improve instruction of mathematical reasoning at all levels by identifying and preparing teachers in the mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) necessary for such instruction. In her work on MKT, she builds on the work of Ball and colleagues (e.g., Ball, Thames, and Phelps (2008)). She brings a mathematics background to her work in mathematics education, specializing in hyperbolic geometry and geometric group theory prior to her interest in mathematical knowledge for teaching and practices of proof and reasoning. Her current projects investigate the cognition of teaching mathematical claim making and proving in secondary mathematics; the role of mathematical knowledge across different time scales; differences between secondary MKT and elementary MKT and implications for professional development, teacher education, and measuring teachers’ knowledge; and the impact of content rich mathematics preparation on teaching practice. Lai earned her SB in mathematics from MIT in 2002, and her Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of California, Davis in 2008. She went on to a postdoctoral position at the University of Michigan in math, followed by a postdoc in math education.


Erica Musgrave, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Erica Musgrave is a third-year graduate student at UNL studying commutative algebra, advised by Alexandra Seceleanu and Mark Walker. She received her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2016. While an undergrad, Musgrave was part of the Director’s Summer Program at the National Security Agency and did an REU at MSRI in Berkeley, California. She returned to the NSA the summer after her first year of graduate school for an internship. Musgrave was greatly impacted by attending NCUWM as an undergrad. She is excited to now be able to give back to the conference and help it continue to impact female mathematicians. This conference was her first year serving on the NCUWM organizing committee.


Ariel Setniker, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Ariel Setniker is in her sixth year of graduate studies at UNL and preparing to graduate in the coming months. Her research interests include fractional calculus, differential equations, and teachers’ use of mathematics curriculum at the high school and undergraduate levels. As an undergraduate, Setniker maintained three jobs to support her studies in mathematics and sports leadership at Western Oregon University. She is an NCUWM alumna and has participated in two research experiences for undergraduates and an internship at a software incubator company. Supporting underrepresented groups in mathematics is one of her passions, and she is thrilled to be sharing her knowledge on all things graduate school and setting a career path at this year’s NCUWM dinner.


Amanda Thomas, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Dr. Amanda Thomas is in her fourth year at UNL as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education. She received her Ph.D. in 2013 from the University of Missouri–Columbia mathematics education doctoral program. Her research focuses on teachers’ use of technology in elementary mathematics classrooms. She is also interested more broadly in STEM education and supporting teachers in innovative STEM integration within their classrooms.


Kimberly Stanke, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Kimberly Stanke is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Complex Biosystems, an interdisciplinary program bridging the gap between the computational sciences and traditional life sciences. She is studying computational biology and brain modeling under Srivatsan Kidambi in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering with co-advisor Oleh Khalimonchuk in Biochemistry. She graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Computational and Applied Mathematics and Biomedical Engineering. Beyond her love of mathematics and improving human life, she is an avid LEGO® builder and enjoys building realistic models of museums and forests.


Ashley Stengel, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Ashley Stengel is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Complex Biosystems program. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Utah, graduating with an Undergraduate Research Scholar Designation for her work with Denise Dearing and Kevin Kohl (paper). She is pursuing a Ph.D. with a specialization in microbial interactions under the mentorship of Rhae Drijber (Dept. of Agronomy and Horticulture) and Joshua Herr (Dept. of Plant Pathology). Her current research applies bioinformatics tools to investigate the ecology of soil microbes in maize agroecosystems. Considering both temporal and spatial dynamics at a long-term field site in Nebraska, Stengel is working to identify drivers of nutrient cycling and explore the functional significance of microbe-microbe, microbe-environment, and microbe-host interactions.


Jennifer Galovich, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University
Jennifer Galovich is her umpteenth year of teaching and has been at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University since 1986, with prior stints at St. Olaf College, Carleton College, and the University of California at Davis. Her special interests include enumerative combinatorics (fancy counting) and applications in molecular biology. (Ask her about stealth siderophores!) She has especially enjoyed mentoring undergraduate research projects in these areas.


Areeba Ikram, Colorado School of Mines
Dr. Areeba Ikram is in her first year as a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics at Colorado School of Mines, where she is working on experimenting with different teaching styles and involving undergraduates in research. She recently received her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, working under the supervision of Allan Peterson. You are likely familiar with the concept of a derivative from calculus, but what does it mean to take a half or pi-th order derivative? Ikram’s research area in discrete fractional calculus addresses this idea. Ikram enjoyed being on the NCUWM organizing committee during her time at UNL and is excited to be back for the conference this year.


Karin Leiderman, Colorado School of Mines
Karin Leiderman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics at Colorado School of Mines. Prior to joining the faculty at Colorado School of Mines in 2016, she was an Assistant Professor in the School of Natural Sciences at the University of California Merced from 2012-2016. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Duke University (2010-2012) and received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Utah in 2010. Leiderman’s research is aimed at understanding biological systems through the use of mathematics, mathematical modeling, and numerical computation. For her Ph.D. thesis, she developed a spatial-temporal mathematical model of the formation of blood clots under flow and was awarded the SIAM student paper prize for this work. For her postdoc, she worked on developing numerical methods for fluid/structure interaction problems involving low Reynolds numbers fluid flow in periodic and complex domains. Leiderman has interests and expertise in computational modeling of blood clotting, biological fluid dynamics, biomechanics, biochemistry, flow through porous materials, and scientific computing.


Lisa Amen, Stanford Health Care/John Muir Health
Lisa Amen is a Nebraska native and graduate of Lincoln East High School. She majored in Mathematics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated with High Distinction in 2012. Following graduation from UNL, Lisa 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 pursue Technical Project Management with hospital systems Stanford Health Care and John Muir Health. When she's not working, Lisa enjoys traveling the world and exploring museums.


Faculty networking


Undergraduate networking