Alumni Vanessa Rivera-Quiñones, B.S. in Mathematics 2013.
Last March, my undergraduate alma mater featured my profile and highlighted some of my projects.
"Vanessa Rivera-Quiñones received her bachelor’s (B.S.) degree in Mathematics with a Minor in Finance from the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras in 2013. At Río Piedras she was awarded the “Francisco Garriga Award” (Most Distinguished Mathematics Student). Vanessa has a master’s (M.S., in 2016) degree in Applied Mathematics and a doctoral (Ph.D., in 2019) degree in Mathematics both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She wrote her Ph.D. dissertation “Mathematical Models of Daphnia Epidemics” under the supervision of Zoi Rapti."
Students Aniket Gargya and Catherine Guo present their research on visualizing mathematics.
In our project, Visualizing mathematics and it's applications, we explored the evolution of cooperation from a game-theory perspective. Mainly, we explored the Prisoner's Dilemma and some of its variations using Python.
"Recently, Tara Stewart-Merrill discovered at Illinois that the freshwater plankton Daphnia can recover from infection with a virulent fungal parasite. Previously, biologists assumed that Daphnia could not recover from that parasite. Following that discovery, Stewart Merrill began a collaboration with Rivera-Quiñones to see what these findings meant for disease dynamics.” - Abby Paeth
This work was done in conjunction with both our advisors Dr. Zoi Rapti and Dr. Carla Cáceres. I was amazed that a biological assumption was overturned with new data! To explore the implications of this discovery, we used a differential equations model to study how the immune responses (clearance) and physiological barriers (resistance) impact the disease dynamics of our system.
I-STEM Multidisciplinary Summer Program Exposes UHS Athletes to Different STEM Departments/Units.
Back in 2017, in collaboration with the I-STEM initiative, I designed a one-day course to showcase to 30 Illinois high-school students the power of mathematics in modeling disease spread. This was so fun! Using the game VAX , students were given a limited number of vaccines and applied them to a network (breaking a link from one person to another) to try to stop a disease from spreading.
“In a website game, called VAX, students were given a limited number of “quarantines” (breaking a link from one person to another) to try to stop a disease from spreading. Once the disease got started, however, it spread rapidly from person to person. The students were quite engaged as they scrambled to try stop the spread of the disease—with varying degrees of success.” - Elizabeth Innes
As a Latina, I’ve become very aware of the challenges members from underrepresented group face in the math community. I’ve written several posts offering my own (and shared) reflections on how to build a more inclusive environment that encourages and promotes diversity and the importance of community. You can read more here:
Broadening the Horizons of Teaching and Diversity in Mathematics Departments (with Marissa Loving, Simone Sisneros-Thity, Sunny Xiao)
Also, I was very excited to be featured in the AMS Next Generation of Mathematics poster, in which I share the best advice piece of advice I received in graduate school.