When you were a child, what was your response to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Describe your research in five words.
“Predicting fluid flow through tubes.”
My answer changed a lot over the years, but the two main professions that stood out were teacher and lawyer. They both would have been a good fit for me — I like to talk a lot.
Share the pivotal moment in your life that helped you choose research as a career path.
While I was working on my master’s in nuclear engineering in Italy, I became interested in mathematics research and met with Roberto Camassa, now one of my two advisors, who was doing research in Milan at the time. During our meeting, I asked if I could come work for him here at UNC — and he said yes! It was a very lucky encounter for me that definitely changed my life. It gave me the opportunity to come to the states and work as a visiting researcher in the math department at UNC — where I truly fell in love with research.
What’s an interesting thing that’s happened during your research?
I had seen an email advertising a community engagement grant and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to fund one of my ideas — a math day camp for high school girls in the Triangle. I knew I couldn’t do this on my own, so I contacted my friend and colleague Katrina Morgan (also a PhD candidate in mathematics at UNC). When I told her what I was envisioning, she said she, too, had seen the email and felt it would be a great opportunity to do some outreach. We were on the exact same page — and that’s how we founded Girls Talk Math. This past June, the camp celebrated its two-year anniversary with 35 attendees. We put a lot of work and time into it with the help of many undergraduate and graduate volunteers. It was a huge success!
What advice would you give to up-and-coming female researchers in your field?
Make sure you are doing something that you love. Work hard, but, specifically, work smart: Plan ahead, manage your time wisely, and be determined. Math is hard — and that is okay.