Professor Kate Poirier | D071 | Fall 2023

OpenLab assignment: Hispanic Heritage Month Mathematician Profile

Due Monday, September 25

Animated gif that says "Happy Hispanic Heritage Month"

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month! For this assignment, we’ll honor Hispanic/Latinx mathematicians by learning about their lives and their work.

Pick one mathematician who identifies either as Hispanic/Latinx and who stands out you. Then write a short profile/biography of them as a comment on this post.

Where can you learn about mathematicians from these communities?

There are lots of places online to find out about these mathematicians. Here is one great resource:

  • Lathisms showcases contributions of Latinx and Hispanics in the Mathematical Sciences; check out the Calendars and Podcasts tabs at the top of the screen.

Once you’ve chosen the mathematician you want to profile, try to find something out about them that’s not on one of these two sites. Most mathematicians have their own websites, which you can usually find by Googling their name (these may be more up to date than the site above). Some of them are active on Twitter and other social media. Your profile should include:

  1. Their name
  2. Something about their work (try to understand something about their work don’t worry if you don’t really understand it, just tell us whatever you found out about it)
  3. Where they are from
  4. Where they live/work now
  5. Why they are interesting or inspiring to you
  6. Anything else you learned about them that you’d like to share
  7. If you can’t embed a photo in an OpenLab comment and if you want to include a photo of your mathematician, you can write your profile in a separate post and include a link to it in the comments on this post (tbh I love pictures!).

Why are we doing this?

White mathematicians of European descent tend to dominate the popular conception of who mathematicians are. For example, in Calculus, we are mostly learning about work by these two dudes, who practically look like twins, right?

Portraits of Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton

Our goal with this assignment is to broaden the popular conception of what a mathematician looks like and who can be a mathematician, as well as to honor the work of Hispanic/Latinx who are living and working today!


  1. Tamika

    Name: Dr. Illiana Perez

    Works: Dr Perez has worked relentlessly on the statistics of immigrant entrepreneurs and immigrant economics providing in-depth research to empower undocumented immigrants focusing on their educational and career goals.

    She is from Mexico.

    She lives in California Central Valley, U.S. and works as Executive Director in Immigrants Rising.

    They are interesting because their research and contributions reflect a personal touch. Using her knowledge of Mathematics and Economics to support immigrants like herself, since that she was an immigrant and was undocumented for 27 years herself.

    To scale the entrepreneurial endeavors, Dr. Perez was successful in securing a $5.4M SEED grant in 2021. In 2022, he added another $2M in funding. More than 1,700 people have received entrepreneurship training from Immigrants Rising through SEED, and more than 1,000 immigrant entrepreneurs have received microgrants totaling more than $5 million.

    Picture of Dr. Illiana Perez:

  2. Qing Chen(Charlotte)

    I’d like to introduce Dr. Federico Ardila, a distinguished mathematician of Colombian descent, known for his significant algebraic combinatorics.

    Dr. Federico Ardila was born in Bogotá, Colombia. He earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and is currently a Professor of Mathematics at San Francisco State University.

    Dr. Ardila’s work primarily focuses on combinatorics, a branch of mathematics that deals with counting and arranging objects. He has made substantial contributions to the theory of matroids, which are abstract mathematical structures that capture essential properties of graphs and networks.

    What makes Dr. Federico Ardila particularly inspiring is his dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion in mathematics. He co-founded the Latinx in the Mathematical Sciences (Lathisms) initiative, which celebrates the achievements of Latinx and Hispanic mathematicians and highlights their contributions to the field. Lathisms provides an excellent platform for showcasing the work of mathematicians from underrepresented backgrounds.

    Dr. Ardila’s commitment to both mathematical research and diversity advocacy makes him a role model for aspiring mathematicians, especially those from minority communities. His work not only advances our understanding of fundamental mathematical concepts but also helps create a more inclusive and equitable mathematical community.

    As a DJ, Dr. Ardila combines his mathematical mindset with his musical creativity to curate and mix tracks that resonate with audiences. This blend of mathematical precision and artistic expression showcases his versatility and ability to excel in different domains.

    Dr. Ardila’s involvement as a DJ highlights the multidimensional nature of individuals in the mathematical community and further contributes to breaking stereotypes about mathematicians. His music brings people together, just as his work in mathematics and diversity advocacy unites communities within the field.

    Overall, Dr. Federico Ardila’s multifaceted talents and dedication to mathematics, diversity, and music make him an inspiring figure who demonstrates the richness of the mathematical community and the power of pursuing one’s passions.

    ” alt=”Federico Ardila”>

  3. Erick Hidalgo

    Name: Joan Ponce

    Her work focuses on using mathematical models to describe and better predict the evolution of disease dynamics. She is interested in exploring different ways of using data to develop novel models that can adapt to the ever-changing nature of disease transmission.

    She was born in Gainesville, Florida but grew up in Quito, Ecuador.

    Doesnt say where she currently lives but it looks like she has been working at Arizona State University since January 2023 as a President Postdoctoral fellow.

    She was interesting to me because first of all she’s Ecuadorian just like me, so its nice to see some Ecuadorian representation in math and also how she developed mathematical and computational models to understand the dynamics of infectious diseases such as avian influenza, Ebola, malaria, COVID-19, and, more recently, HIV and her current research focuses on modeling geographic accessibility to antiretroviral treatment using geographic information systems and georeferenced HIV case data.

    Another thing i learned about her is that she joined the Association of Women in Mathematics (AWM) as a mentor for incoming graduate students from underrepresented groups in graduate school. She helps recruit graduate school applicants from highly underrepresented groups.


  4. Ethan Lo

    Luis Sordo Vieira is a mathematician working in the Department of Medicine at the University of Florida, by way of Wayne State University and University of Kentucky. He works in the development of mathematical and systems biology approaches to investigate the progression of disease processes.

    In the paper “A modular computation framework for medical digital twins”, he and his co-authors describes a design for an open source software platform for “digital twins”, a medical device encapsulating a mathematical model calibrated to an individual patient. One example of a digital twin is an artificial pancreas – which receives real-time blood glucose levels from a sensor in the patient, uses its model to calculate insulin needs, and drives a pump to inject the appropriate dose of insulin.

    I personally found this super interesting in the context of my prior work building microservice software architectures in backend web development. There seem to be similar concepts at play – streams of real-time data alongside many different consumers of this data, all doing maintaining their own internal models. Nifty!

    He also wrote an article for the AMS blog which thought was very lovely:

    “My last point is that we please reconsider what a successful mathematician is. Coming into grad school for a PhD, realizing it’s not for you, and leaving with a master’s degree is not a failure. Finishing an REU and realizing research is terrible and you never want to do it again is not a failure. Let us redefine a mathematician to encompass our fellow academes in math ed. Math ed is just as important for the math community as number theory. Stop using terms such as number-crunchers for scientists and industry workers applying mathematics. Let us stop considering mathematics as the ultimate science. Let us celebrate diversity in mathematics.”


  5. Shawn Suraj

    Sebastián Muñoz Thon, a Ph.D. student in Mathematics at Purdue University, and is from the city of Valdivia in Chile.His work tackles challenging mathematical puzzles like boundary rigidity and scattering rigidity by delving into the delicate fields of microlocal analysis and geometric applications. There is no denying Sebastián’s excitement for mathematics, and he is as dedicated to spreading this enthusiasm. His journey from Valdivia to Purdue University demonstrates how committed he is to the subject. He shares the fun of mathematics with a variety of audiences as a teaching assistant and supporter of math outreach. Sebastián’s wisdom transcends math and speaks to anybody aspiring to achievement. It is reflected in his guidance on making goals and overcoming obstacles.

  6. Shaolong


    Sebastián Muñoz Thon is a Ph.D. student in Mathematics 

    work at Purdue University

    born in Valdivia, a city in the south of Chile.

    Sebastián’s research interests include microlocal analysis and geometric applications, geometric inverse problems, and geometric flows. In particular, he is interested in boundary rigidity problems, scattering rigidity problems, and fractional harmonic maps and their heat flows. 

    What he said inspire me, “First, it is useful to fix a goal and divide it in little parts. Secondly, try to advance in your objectives day by day, but do not be discouraged if you are not able to advance as much as you want every day, recalling that there are bad and good days.”

  7. Benjamin Tolbert

    Alicia Prieto Langarica is a mathematician with a PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of Texas at Arlington.

    Alicia is currently a professor of mathematics at Youngstown State University. Her research focuses mainly on mathematical biology, which involves how to deal with biological problems through the application of mathematics.

    One thing that stuck about about her is that she is one of the four people who founded Lathisims (Latinx and Hispanics in the Mathematical Sciences), which was created in 2016. She is also one of the associate directors of Project NExT, a program that serves to mentor individuals in the field of mathematics after they obtain their PhDs.

    Alicia won several awards such as the Henry L. Alder Award for her work in the field of mathematics. Interestingly, she is also the granddaughter of Mexican professional footballer, Max Prieto.

    Prieto Langarica, Alicia | YSU

  8. Wellington D Verduga

    Hermann Mena is an Ecuadorian mathematician, author to many publications and 2 books. He studied Mathematics at Escuela Politecnica Nacional in Quito, Ecuador. He is currently a Humboldt Fellow at Technische Universitat Berlin in Germany. Hermann is insteresting because of lack of interest in the field in Ecuador. Even more impressive is that he was the principal investigator in one of the first funded research project in Ecuador at the age of 28. His research, “Simulation of Glyphosate Aerial Spray Drift at the Ecuador-Colombia border” helped relieve some of the political conflict arising in the relationship between Ecuador and Colombia. Furthermore, he is also a avid athlete, being an amateur tri-athlete,, swimmer, chess player, and scuba diver.“>

  9. Brandon Payne

    Jaime Escalante’s remarkable journey began in Bolivia, but it was in the United States during the 1960s that he would leave an indelible mark on the field of education. In 1974, he assumed the role of a mathematics instructor at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, a school predominantly attended by Hispanic and low-income students. Despite its notorious history of violence and academic underachievement, Escalante saw a place brimming with untapped potential.

    Driven by an unwavering determination to see his students excel,

    Escalante introduced an advanced mathematics program that slowly but surely

    gained momentum. His efforts culminated in 1982 when his largest class not only

    tackled but aced the daunting AP Calculus exam. The exceptional performance of

    so many students raised suspicions of cheating, prompting the testing company

    to invalidate their scores. Unyielding in his belief in his students’

    capabilities, Escalante launched a fervent protest, leading many of his

    students to retake and triumph on the test months later. This is what was most

    interesting to me because I know he basically laughed in their faces as he

    proved them wrong and built a significant amount of confidence in his students.

    This extraordinary episode captured the attention of the public and became the

    inspiration behind the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver.”

    Escalante’s dedication to teaching knew no bounds, as he

    continued to nurture young minds until 1998. Along his illustrious career, he

    collected numerous accolades, including the prestigious Presidential Medal of

    Excellence. In 1999, he received the ultimate honor when he was inducted into

    the National Teachers Hall of Fame, forever cementing his legacy as a

    trailblazer in education. Jaime Escalante’s story stands as a testament to the

    transformative power of an unwavering belief in the potential of every student.

  10. Brandon Payne

    I Constantly Innovate My Teaching”: Jaime Escalante Dies ...


  11. Allan Yunayev

    1. Dr. Oscar Hernan Madrid Padilla
    2. He works on problems related to high dimensional statistics, network problems, change point detection, quantile regression, and causal inference
    3. Honduras in the regions of Olancho and Santa Barbara
    4. Assistant Professor for the University of California, Los Angeles
    5. The thing that was inspiring to me was the fact that he came from the poorest area in Honduras while also being a child of 5 siblings.
    6. null

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