LMS-IMA-BSHM Joint Meeting: Black Heroes of Mathematics

Location: 
Zoom, hosted by the LMS, IMA and BSHM with support from the ICMS.
Start Date: 
Tuesday 27th October, 2020
Speakers: 
Dr Angela Tabiri (AIMS Ghana), Dr Howard Haughton (KCL), Prof. Tannie Liverpool (Bristol), Dr Nira Chamberlain (IMA President), Natalya Silcott FIMA, Dr Spencer Becker Kahn (Cambridge), Dr Nkechi Agwu (CUNY), Prof. Edray Goins (Pomona College)

 

The British Society for the History of Mathematics, the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and the London Mathematical Society, are holding a two-day conference on Black Heroes of Mathematics.

The Vision of the conference is “To celebrate the inspirational contributions of black role models to the field of mathematics”.

There will be a balance of technical talks by internationally renowned black speakers that include some detail of career paths and experience to provide a testimonial dimension. We plan to achieve a balance of career stage and gender.

We plan two sessions 26 October 2020 [morning and afternoon] and two sessions on 27 October [afternoon and early evening] to suit our audience and our line-up of international speakers. The second session each day will be a questions and discussion session hosted by Dr Nira Chamberlain, President of the IMA. We plan that pre-recorded talks will be available during the first session each day [these will be pre-released by a few hours]. The questions and discussion sessions each day will be hosted in real time.

We are requesting that all talks are accessible to the wide audience that we hope to attract. This event is part of the Black History Month 2020 celebrations.

Timetable (please note all times are in Greenwich Mean Time)



10.00am Welcome - Dr Nira Chamberlain
10.05am Message from BHMS/LMS/ICMS/IMA
10.10am Dr Angela Tabiri (Aims Ghana, Ghana) – “The Journey of Female African Mathematicians”.
10.50am Dr Howard Haughton (King’s College London, UK) – “On the use of Probability and Moment generating functions for quantifying loan portfolio credit losses”
11.30 am Professor Tannie Liverpool (University of Bristol, UK) – “From Boltzmann to bird flocks : journeys in non-equilibrium statistical mechanics”
12.10pm Lunch Break
13:00pm Dr Nira Chamberlain (President, IMA) – "The Black Heroes of Mathematics"
13:50pm Break
14.00pm Panel Discussion
15.30PM Finish
   
27th October  
13:00pm Welcome - Dr Nira Chamberlain
13.10pm Natalya Silcott FIMA (Harrow School & Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology & Innovation, UK - "Leaving a Legacy".
13.50pm Dr Spencer Becker-Kahn 
14.20pm Break
14.50pm Professor Nkechi Agwu (CUNY, USA) – “Mathematical Storytelling: Fostering Creativity, Innovation, Cultural Awareness and Entrepreneurship”
15.30pm Professor Edray Goins (Pomona College) – “The Black Mathematician Chronicles: Our Quest to Update the MAD Pages”
16:00pm Break
18:00pm Panel Discussion
19:30pm Finish

 

Abstracts

Angela Tabiri (Aims Ghana, Ghana) – “The Journey of Female African Mathematicians”.

When we mention female mathematicians with African descent, Katherine Johnson is a name that stands out. The Hidden Figures book and movie brought her outstanding achievements into the spotlight. Katherine calculated the trajectory which put the first American in space. Young girls are inspired by her work and aspire to pursue careers in mathematics irrespective of the challenges anticipated.
In recent years, the journeys of female African mathematicians (Femafricmaths) and their achievements are not easily accessible both in print and online. Chelsea Walton and Eunice Mureithi are Femafricmaths making excellent contributions in mathematics which need to be highlighted. This talk will put the spotlight on successful journeys of early, mid and established Femafricmaths across Africa and those of African descent.  
 
Howard Haughton (King’s College London, UK) – “On the use of Probability and Moment generating functions for quantifying loan portfolio credit losses”
 
The quantification of portfolio credit loss has and remains an important topic in the field of quantitative finance.  Over the years, a number of methods have been developed for the derivation of credit loss distributions including Monte-Carlo simulation and actuarial-based models.  In this presentation, we discuss an approach to quantifying portfolio credit loss based on use of Moment and Probability generating functions.  The approach makes use of relatively simple concepts of probability theory and calculus to derive the portfolio expected and variance of loss as well as the notion of the risk-contribution to the Value-At-Risk.  The results can be seen to be a contribution to the area of credit risk concerning infectious defaults.
 

Nira Chamberlain (President, IMA) - "The Black Heroes of Mathematics"

Dr Nira Chamberlain looks at the Black Heroes of Mathematics. The 2017 film, Hidden Figures, is based on the true story of a group of black female mathematicians who served as the brains behind calculating the momentous launch of the NASA astronaut John Glen into orbit. However, these mathematicians of colour are not the only ‘Hidden Figures’. Nira will discuss other inspirational men and women who overcame obstacles to prove that ‘mathematics is truly for everybody’!

Dr Nira Chamberlain PhD Hon DSc is President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) and in 2019 the Inclusive Tech Alliance named Nira as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic leaders in the Uk’s Tech.

 

Natalya Silcott FIMA (Harrow School & Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology & Innovation, UK - "Leaving a Legacy".

This talk will firstly be about the lack of acknowledgement of Mathematics that was founded in Africa in the Western Curriculum and what can be done to redress the balance. Finally, I will be sharing my research findings in the field of Graph Theory.

Nkechi Agwu (CUNY, USA) – “Mathematical Storytelling: Fostering Creativity, Innovation, Cultural Awareness and Entrepreneurship”

This presentation provides a summary of the genesis of Rev. Nkechi Madonna Agwu, Ph.D., aka Nma (Beautiful) Jacob, as a mathematical storyteller. It provides a summary of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, National Mathematical Centre and Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program ethnomathematics teaching-research project, Culture, History and Women’s Stories: A Framework for Capacity Building in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Related Fields and for Fostering Entrepreneurship Education (2014 – present).

Dr. Agwu is the Carnegie Fellow and the Founder of CHI STEM TOYS Foundation, an NGO geared towards facilitating STEM and entrepreneurship education among under-represented groups of people in STEM and in rural and vulnerable communities in Africa. In addition to the afore-mentioned partnering institutions, this project is conducted with support and collaboration from many other organizations and institutions, particularly, CHI STEM TOYS Foundation, Jacob Agwu Memorial Vocational Education and Entrepreneurship Center, World-wide Association of Small Churches, the Drammeh Institute and the Nigerian Women in Agricultural Research for Development (NiWARD). The focus of this presentation is on the mathematical story-telling of a subset of NiWARD and the mathematical story-telling workshop for high school girls of CHI STEM TOYS Foundation and the Drammeh Institute in facilitating creativity, cultural awareness and gender equity, mainstreaming and empowerment. The purpose of this project is to engage in ethnomathematics research and teaching-research that will lead to the development of gender sensitive and African culturally based curricular activities for the teaching and learning of mathematics, that fosters creativity, innovation, leadership development and entrepreneurship education, while simultaneously nurturing, grooming and mentoring girls to consider STEM related careers by making visible the stories of successful African women in STEM and the work of rural women in STEM related areas.

Key words: STEM, Gender Equity, Curriculum, Entrepreneurship, Mathematical Story-telling, Culture
 

Edray Goins (Pomona College) – “The Black Mathematician Chronicles: Our Quest to Update the MAD Pages”

In 1997, Scott Williams (SUNY Buffalo) founded the website "Mathematicians of the African Diaspora,'' which has since become widely known as the MAD Pages. Williams built the site over the course of 11 years, creating over 1,000 pages by himself as a personal labor of love. The site features more than 700 African Americans in mathematics, computer science, and physics as a way to showcase the intellectual prowess of those from the Diaspora.

Soon after Williams retired in 2008, Edray Goins (Pomona College), Donald King (Northeastern University), Asamoah Nkwanta (Morgan State University), and Weaver (Varsity Software) have been working since 2015 to update the Pages.  Edray Goins led an REU of eight undergraduates during the summer of 2020 to write more biographies for the new MAD Pages.

In this talk, we discuss the results from Pomona Research in Mathematics Experience (PRiME), recalling some stories of the various biographies of previously unknown African American mathematical scientists, and reflecting on some of the challenges of running a math history REU.  This project s funded by the National Science Foundation (DMS-1560394).

Organising Committee:

  • Nira Chamberlain – IMA
  • Frank Neumann – LMS
  • Troy Astarte – BSHM
  • Snezana Lawrence – BSHM and IMA

This meeting is hosted by the ICMS.

More information and how to register is available here.