Speaker Series Kickoff: Professor Moon Duchin and Cathy O’Neil

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The Fall 2015 speaker series kickoff was held on Monday, September 14, at 6:30 – 7:30 pm in Emerson 108. It featured Professor Moon Duchin (Professor of Math at Tufts University and Harvard BA ’98 in Math and Women’s Studies) and Cathy O’Neil (author of the popular blog mathbabe.org; Harvard PhD ’99 in Mathematics) discussing ideas to build a more welcoming math community. Around 70 students were invited and the event was covered in the Harvard Crimson here.

About the speakers:

Moon Duchin was an undergrad at Harvard majoring in math and women’s studies, then got her math PhD at U Chicago with a dissertation on random transformations of surfaces.  During grad school she also taught gender studies, worked on teacher training programs in the Chicago Public Schools, coached the rugby team, took some time off for projects in history and philosophy of science, and stayed involved enough in queer activism to earn the personalized disdain of Rush Limbaugh.  After hopping around postdocs at UC Davis, MSRI, Michigan, and Collège de France, she came back to the northeast for a position at Tufts, where she recently became an associate professor.  She received an NSF CAREER award for work in geometric group theory and geometric topology and is nursing a slow-moving book project on a social history of math.

Cathy O’Neil earned a Ph.D. in math from Harvard, was a postdoc at the MIT math department, and a professor at Barnard College where she published a number of research papers in arithmetic algebraic geometry. She then switched over to the private sector, working as a quant for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw in the middle of the credit crisis, and then for RiskMetrics, a risk software company that assesses risk for the holdings of hedge funds and banks. She left finance in 2011 and started working as a data scientist in the New York start-up scene, building models that predicted people’s purchases and clicks. She wrote the book Doing Data Science and launched the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia. She is a weekly guest on the Slate Money podcast and is currently writing a book about the dark side of big data.


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