Applied Mathematician

Applied mathematics involves using math to solve problems in the “real world.” An applied mathematician might answer questions raised by physicists, chemists, engineers, environmental scientists, or other people trying to understand or build things. Fern Hunt, an applied mathematician, studies “phenomena that you might observe either with numbers or in nature or in everyday life which seem unpredictable.” She asks questions about probability, dynamical systems, and chaos theory in her work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Chad Topaz studies the ways large groups of animals move and also uses math and statistics to reveal social injustice. He has analyzed the release of prisoners from a New York City jail and the lack of diversity of artists whose work appears in the collections of major museums. “I use quantitative tools to study problems in the natural sciences and these days in society.”

Applied Mathematician Erika Tatiana Camacho builds mathematical models that help scientists understand how our eyes work. The math she does helps them develop better treatments for the genetic disease called retinitis pigmentosa. When working at Los Alamos National Laboratory, she helped the U.S. government analyze ways of limiting the growth of terrorist groups. Steven Strogatz investigates the ways math shapes biological rhythms in creatures from fireflies to human beings. Computer Scientist Bernard Chazelle, also an applied mathematician, studies the natural algorithms behind the behavior of flocks of birds, swarms of insects, and other large groups which appear to have a mind of their own.