Math conference features Howard University professor

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April 3, 2019

Talitha Washington

Talitha Washington

Talitha Washington, an in-demand motivational speaker who enjoys sharing her expertise on applied mathematics as well as STEM diversity to a wide range of audiences, is the guest speaker at the 40th annual Pi Mu Epsilon Conference April 12-13 at the Peter Engle Science Center, Saint John’s University.

The conference, which is open to anyone but aimed for mathematics majors and high school students interested in the topic, begins at 7 p.m. Friday, April 12, and 9 a.m. Saturday, April 13.

Washington, an associate professor of mathematics at Howard University, will deliver two addresses during the conference.

Her first talk, at 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 12, at Pellegrene Auditorium, is titled “Hidden Figures: The Mathematics of Katherine Johnson.” Washington will uncover the equations created by Johnson during the 1960s Space Race and highlighted in the movie “Hidden Figures,” and how the mathematical consultant Rudy Horne created the mathematics for the film.

Her second talk, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 13, at Pellegrene Auditorium, is titled “Nonstandard Finite Difference Schemes (NSFD) for a Nonlinear World.” Washington will discuss the ways to construct NSFD schemes for various nonlinear models, including the models for the spread of a disease and the models for the infamous Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which collapsed in 1940.

Washington completed her undergraduate studies in mathematics at Spelman College and studied abroad at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of Connecticut.

She now serves on the Council of the American Mathematical Society and has previously served on the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics. She is active in programs led by the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education, and Mathematical Biosciences Institute Research Experiences for Undergraduates.

Washington’s work on Elbert Frank Cox, the first African-American in the world to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, has been shared on radio and television stations, as well as in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, the most visible journal to all mathematicians.

Four College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University students will present undergraduate research as a team on “A Determinant Game.” It is based on their work with research adviser Bret Benesh, associate professor and chair of the Mathematics Department at CSB and SJU.

The team members include CSB’s Emily Twardy (sophomore, mathematics major, Monticello, Minnesota) and SJU students Bardia Bijani Aval (junior, numerical computation major, Göteborg, Sweden), Mitchell Hansen (sophomore, integrative science major, Cold Spring, Minnesota) and Eddy MacDonald (sophomore, mathematics and political science double-major, Minneapolis).

Pi Mu Epsilon is a national mathematics honor society with chapters across the country.