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UMBC chapter participates in Maryland Howard County Math Festival

On Tuesday November 18, the second annual Howard County Math Festival was held at Centennial High School in Maryland.  Members of the SIAM Student Chapter at UMBC (Samuel Khuvis, Jonathan Graf and Sarah Swatski) volunteered to have a table at the event to demonstrate the real-world applications of mathematics.  We also were able to promote mathematics by sharing our experiences as young mathematicians in a Math Related Majors for College Students session. Read the rest of this entry »

Roche Researcher Norman Mazer on models analyzing cholesterol and heart disease

What makes cholesterol good or bad? High-density lipoprotein, or “good cholesterol” is believed to play an important role in lowering cardiovascular disease risk. But how and why does it do so, and does raising the level of good cholesterol reduce one’s risk of heart disease? To answer this and other questions about cholesterol, Norman Mazer of Roche Innovation Center in Basel uses mathematical models to represent the different biological processes involved in cholesterol metabolism. Using this model of lipoprotein metabolism and kinetics, Dr. Mazer’s group is attempting to understand the link between cholesterol and heart disease. Watch the video to learn more!

Emmanuel Candes to Receive 2015 AMS-SIAM Birkhoff Prize in Applied Mathematics  


Providence, RI—Emmanuel Candès will be awarded the 2015 AMS-SIAM George David Birkhoff Prize in Applied Mathematics. Candès holds the Barnum-Simons Chair in Mathematics and Statistics and is a professor of electrical engineering (by courtesy) and a member of the Institute of Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford University. The Birkhoff Prize, jointly sponsored by the American Mathematical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, will be awarded at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January in San Antonio, Texas.

Candès is honored “for his work on compressed sensing that has revolutionized signal processing and medical imaging and his related work on computational harmonic analysis, statistics and scientific computing.”

Compressed sensing is a mathematical technique that has led to dramatic advances in the efficiency and accuracy of data collection and analysis.  A prime example comes from medicine, particularly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  An MRI machine collects data about the body part analyzed, and then an algorithm uses that data to create a picture of the body part.  The machine should intelligently collect just the right number of data points, and the algorithm should use those points to reliably reconstruct a high-quality image.  When working with doctors on the problem of reducing artifacts in MRI images, Candès and his post-doc Justin Romberg experimented with one particular reconstruction algorithm that worked with an unusually small number of data points.  They noticed something strange: when tested, the algorithm reconstructed the image *exactly*, every time. Candès then realized they were on to something new. Read the rest of this entry »

SIAM Executive Director James Crowley named AAAS Fellow

Philadelphia, PA—James M. Crowley has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for a distinguished record as a scientific administrator in the U.S. Air Force and for the past two decades of outstanding leadership as executive director of SIAM, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

With Crowley at the helm, SIAM has grown and expanded over the last 20 years through conferences, activity groups and publications that spotlight new areas and cutting edge research, prizes and awards that recognize outstanding work in the field, and a range of projects aimed at improving mathematics education and increasing the impact of the mathematical sciences for the society at large.

Prior to SIAM, Crowley served in positions in the US Air Force, including Assistant Chief Scientist at the Air Force Systems Command. He was a program manager for applied and computational mathematics at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and served as the directorate head for Mathematics and Information Sciences at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He was also a tenured associate professor at the US Air Force Academy. He received his PhD in Applied Mathematics from Brown University. Read the rest of this entry »

When vaccines are imperfect: What math can tell us about their effects on disease propagation

nugget_iconPhiladelphia, PA—The control of certain childhood diseases is difficult, despite high vaccination coverage in many countries. One of the possible reasons for this is “imperfect vaccines,” that is, vaccines that fail either due to “leakiness,” lack of effectiveness on certain individuals in a population, or shorter duration of potency.

In a paper publishing today in the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, authors Felicia Magpantay, Maria Riolo, Matthieu Domenech de Celles, Aaron King, and Pejman Rohani use a mathematical model to determine the consequences of vaccine failure and resulting disease dynamics.

“We examined the effects of individual-level vaccine failure on the propagation of a disease through a population,” says author Felicia Magpantay. “Specifically, we took into account different ways in which vaccines may fail. We distinguished between vaccine-induced immunity that is ‘leaky’, whereby vaccination reduces the probability of infection upon exposure but does not eliminate it; ‘all-or-nothing’, which leads to perfect protection in some individuals, but none in others; and ‘waning’, which reflects transient protection—or some combination of all three.” Read the rest of this entry »

Army Research Lab to Host Open House for New Open Campus Initiative

Via Lewis-Burke Associates LLC

The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has announced an Open House on December 9-10 for its Open Campus Initiative launched earlier this year.  The Open House will allow the external research community to engage with ARL scientists and familiarize themselves with the Open Campus Initiative.  ARL created the Open Campus Initiative earlier this year to increase its collaborations with universities and other external research stakeholders.  Collaborations will center around staff exchanges between campus and ARL scientists around ARL research areas, including materials, computational and information sciences, weapons and vehicle platforms, and human sciences.  In addition to working with researchers at ARL’s main campus in Maryland, Open Campus participants will work at ARL facilities in North Carolina, Florida, and New Mexico.  While the initiative will initially focus on staff exchanges, this venture represents an opportunity for universities to increase their relationships with ARL which could lead to joint research funding down the road.

Computational Sciences is a primary research area and the open house may therefore be of interest to many members of the mathematical sciences community. Read the rest of this entry »

Employment Opportunity for Program Directors in the Division of Mathematical Sciences

From the NSF: 

The Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS), within the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, National Science Foundation (NSF), announces a nationwide search for mathematical sciences professionals to fill Program Director positions. Formal consideration of interested applications will begin on November 18, 2014 and will continue until selections are made.

NSF Program Directors bear the primary responsibility for carrying out the Agency’s overall mission. To discharge this responsibility requires not only knowledge in the appropriate disciplines, but also a commitment to high standards, a considerable breadth of interest and receptivity to new ideas, a strong sense of fairness, good judgment, and a high degree of personal integrity.

For full details, view the announcement on the NSF site.

UC- Berkeley graduate student Jasmine Nirody on mechanistic models of bacterial movement

How do bacteria move? Can we turn to math and physics for answers? Jasmine Nirody, a graduate student at UC-Berkeley, has been fascinated with how organisms move since she was a little kid. Now she is using that passion to study how tiny organisms like bacteria move despite the large frictional and viscous forces acting against them in their environments. Using principles from applied mathematics and theoretical biophysics, Nirody is studying how flagellar forces help bacteria move via mechanistic models of the bacterial flagellar motor.

Watch the video to learn more!

University of Manchester SIAM chapter participates in PostGraduate Open Day

Sophia Coban and Chris Mower of the University of Manchester SIAM Student Chapter write about their chapter’s involvement in PostGraduate Open Day at the university:

 The PostGraduate Open Day is an event held in the School of Mathematics once a year for the prospective students to meet the current postgraduates, and get a feel of studying or researching at The University of Manchester. This meant an opportunity for us to introduce ourselves and our community to the prospective students — not just for the Manchester Chapter, but for SIAM in general!

The Chapter was represented by Chris Mower (Vice President), Mario Berljafa (Treasurer) and Zehui Jin (Secretary) at the open day on the 22nd of October. We had a great day talking to prospective students and current PhD researchers at the University. It was pleasing to hear that many of the current MSc students at the University had already signed up to SIAM and the Chapter!

Arthur Lander on modeling normal versus rampant cell growth

How do the basics of what goes on in our tissues during normal development give us a better understanding of what happens when things go awry in the malignant disease state? In this clip, Arthur Lander of the University of California, Irvine, speaks about how biological systems use control and regulation to achieve or maintain desired outcomes in growth and development. Controlled growth is not only essential for biological development, but also plays an important role in preventing the kinds of out-of-control growth we see in certain cancers.  Lander’s group builds mathematical models that mimic real tissues in order to understand normal growth control. Using such models, his lab is determining how morphogenesis is achieved by turning growth on and off in certain desired locations via regulated feedback between growing cells and those that produce tissues.

Watch the video to learn more!