UAlbany Conference Celebrates Women in Mathematics

A woman speaks in front of a projector screen at the UAlbany mathematics conference.
Professor Jennifer Morse of the University of Virginia delivers the first presentation at the UAlbany mathematics conference. (Photo by Brian Busher)

By Michael Parker

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 25, 2023) — Since its founding in 1971, the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) has worked to increase the presence and visibility of women in mathematical sciences. Created in an era when young women often faced roadblocks to pursuing careers in mathematics, AWM today boasts more than 3,500 members from the United States and around the world.

Now the University at Albany is partnering with AWM to honor the 50-year legacy of the organization as it hosts “Women in Algebra and Combinatorics. Northeast Conference Celebrating the Association for Women in Mathematics: 50 Years and Counting.” Starting Friday, April 28 and running through Sunday, April 30, the conference will bring together participants from more than 45 universities and six countries.

As part of the event, the conference will honor past E.B. Van Vleck Professor of Mathematics Georgia Benkart, who passed away in 2022. Benkart was past president of AWM and a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. At UAlbany's 2021 virtual workshop, predecessor of the 2023 conference, she gave both a mathematical presentation and the keynote address about the Association for Women in Mathematics.

“Unfortunately, women remain an underrepresented part of mathematics,” said Bard College Associate Professor of Mathematics Lauren Rose, co-sponsor of the event through AWM. “The goal of the workshop is to support and motivate women mathematicians by helping them pursue graduate careers in mathematics.”

The conference will host 17 invited talks, a panel discussion on the role of AWM in math and science, a poster session and a tribute to Benkart.

“The plenary talks by leading women mathematicians with long and successful careers in the field will highlight different areas of mathematics and different professions made possible by a mathematical education,” said UAlbany Professor and Chair of Mathematics Cristian Lenart, co-organizer of the event. “The range of short talks by promising junior colleagues will provide information on a number of current topics of interest in algebra and combinatorics.”

The focus on presentations by both senior and junior mathematicians is also an important part of highlighting the role of AWM in fostering the growth of the mathematics profession among women.

“In this contemporary age, the development of mathematics is considerably fast and various fields of research are widely disseminated,” said UAlbany Associate Professor of Mathematics & Statistics Karin Reinhold, co-organizer of the conference. “A reality is that people in different areas hardly communicate and work together. The workshop is effective in fixing these gaps, by highlighting the connections between various areas of algebra and combinatorics, by creating a sense of community among women in mathematics, and by fostering new research collaborations.”