At some point, you learned to tell the difference between a triangle (a polygon with three sides), a rectangle (four sides…), and a circle (the set of points that are a certain distance from a …

Topologists study shapes of different dimensions. Think of the shapes they study as malleable (squishy and stretchable, like clay). To a topologist, a solid triangle and a solid square are the same sort of two-dimensional shape (one with no holes in it). A shape that looks similar to a donut is called a torus. Some topologists study knots, which helps chemists model and understand the way molecules behave. Topology is also useful for scientists interested in the shapes DNA forms. Strands of genetic material tend to wrap around themselves … to tie themselves in knots. Mathematician Emille Lawrence, a topologist, studied braid groups and, more recently, has worked with spatial graphs, exploring the different ways one can position a graph in space.