Daily Archives: January 12, 2018

Out in Math

It was really difficult to decide what talks to go to Thursday afternoon, so much was happening at once! But I’m really glad I ended up going to the MAA Panel on Out in Mathematics. The panel focused on issues that LGBTQ mathematicians can face when dealing with students, administrators, colleagues, and potential employers. Audience members shared their own stories and difficulties. Despite whatever challenges we may face after returning home, it was moving to be together in a safe, supportive space where people could share and work through some of those challenges.

Juliette Bruce, Shelly Bouchat, Frank Farris, Ron Buckmire, and Emily Riehl

It was upsetting (though sadly not that surprising) to hear about some of the harassment and discrimination that continues today. Though discomforting, sometimes those are the most productive and important feelings one can have. As a cis man in Massachusetts who is often assumed to be straight, it can be too easy for me to become complacent.

The panel was organized by the cleverly named Spectra which has been meeting for the better part of three decades. The 1995 JMM had been schedule to be in Denver, but in late 1992 Colorado passed a constitutional amendment that banned local anti-discrimination laws. The MAA and the AMS quickly moved to change the venue to San Francisco, so that the meeting would be something everyone could feel safe attending. Out of this a group of mathematicians (now Spectra) started organizing panels, on-site receptions, and off-site receptions at JMM meetings.

I always appreciate learning about histories like this, because I appreciate the work done by those who have come before, and because seeing how far we’ve come makes me feel a little bit better about how far I see we still need to go.

Asking around: what we’re up to at JMM

Colorado College students Hanbo Shao and Lyujiangyang Yu outside William Cook’s talk “Information, computation, and optimization: Connecting the dots on the Traveling Salesman Problem”. They enjoyed the talk: “It gave me a new angle on the traveling salesman problem; I didn’t know it could be solved with linear programming.” Next up, they were headed to Jill Pipher’s “Nonsmooth boundary problems” (this year’s Noether Lecture) or maybe to the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics reunion.

Michelle Manes and Aly Deines.  Michelle said “The Gibbs Lecture was the bomb.”  Aly concurred, adding that last night’s AWM reception was also amazing, and that William Cook’s traveling salesman lecture was really fun.  Next up, they were headed to the Noether lecture.

Heidi Goodson is enjoying interviews, great tacos (she recommends Salud!), and free coffee towards the back of the exhibit hall.

The view from the hallway, looking into Jo Boaler’s standing-room-only talk, “Changing mathematical relationships and mindsets: how all students can succeed in mathematics learning”. Reportedly, this talk was awesome.

Abe Mantell at the email center near registration on the ground floor of the San Diego Convention Center. Fresh from two simultaneous (!) committee meetings, Abe has also (?) been enjoying the view of Coronado Island and the MAA session on Math and Sports. He is also hoping to make it over to the MAA session on Math Circle Topics with Visual or Kinesthetic Components.

Guess the next term in this sequence? Dana Mackenzie is working hard in the press room, as Mike Breen looks on.  Dana is excited to see Judea Pearl (creator of Bayesian networks and the belief propagation algorithm) receive the 2018 Ulm Grenander prize.  Judea and Dana’s “The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect” comes out in May of 2018.

Carla Cotwright-Williams is excited “to use my math to help shape policy”.  She’s going home tomorrow to spend a week relaxing and getting ready to start her new position as a data scientist with the Department of Defense.

sarah-marie belcastro and Tom Hull are excited about SO many things at the JMM this year—sarah-marie has at compiled least 10 pages of activities for the meeting. They are both thrilled with the number of great panels and sessions devoted to inclusivity and equity in mathematics. “People are using almost new paradigms to think about this—new to me anyway, and I find it really exciting,“ Tom says.

Farhad Jafari and Greg Lyng are at the meeting interviewing job candidates and hosting a booth at the Grad School fair. “All prospective grad students should apply to the University of Wyoming,” Farhad says. Greg also especially enjoyed Edriss Titi’s address, “The Navier-Stokes, Euler, and related equations”