Diversity in Math Movie Series

Believe it or not, mathematicians come in every size, shape and color. Although historically, mathematics has been a field dominated by white males, women and people from other racial groups have also made their way through its ranks and have accomplished great things.

From December 2020 to March 2021, the Diversity in Math Movie Series hosted monthly virtual discussions around films depicting the lives of prominent mathematicians from underrepresented groups. We talked about the math and the people, their passions and struggles, and about how this relates to each one of us in the current times.

Thank you to all our panelists and attendees for participating in the series! Until the next time!

You can be a mathematician too!

December – Hidden Figures

Based on the book of the same name, Hidden Figures tells the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.

Our Panelists:

  • Sharon McDougle – NASA Crew Escape Equipment Manager & Crew Chief
  • Dr. Ranthony A.C. Edmonds – Ross Assistant Professor, OSU Department of Mathematics
  • Dr. John Johnson Jr. – Assistant Professor/Academic Program Coordinator, OSU Department of Mathematics
  • Kayla Watson – Aerospace Engineer Brooke Owens Fellowship Executive Leader
  • Khristian Jones – Co-founder of the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship

This session was hosted in partnership with the Department of Astronomy Monthly Movie Night.

January – Girls Who Fell in Love With Math

This documentary film is about two girls who grew up together in the 60s of Taiwan, the story of their dream of pursuing math: Dr. Alice Chang and Dr. Fan Chung-Graham.

Our Panelists:

  • Dr. Alice Chang – Princeton University
  • Hannah Johnson – Undergraduate Student, The Ohio State University
  • Kacey Clark – Graduate Student, The Ohio State University
  • Paige Helms – Graduate Student, University of Washington

February – Secrets of the Surface

Secrets of the Surface: The Mathematical Vision of Maryam Mirzakhani examines the life and mathematical work of Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian immigrant who became a superstar in her field. In 2014, she was both the first woman and the first Iranian to be honored by mathematics’ highest prize, the Fields Medal.

Our Panelists:

  • Dr. Liz Vivas – Associate Professor, The Ohio State University
  • Dr. Claire Merriman – Director of Outreach, The Ohio State University
  • Dr. Hannah Alpert – Postdoc, University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Jenny Iglesias – Software Engineer, Waymo

March 17 – Navajo Math Circles

Hundreds of Navajo children in recent years have found themselves at the center of a lively collaboration with mathematicians from around the world. The children stay late after school and assemble over the summer to study mathematics, using a model called math circles, which originated in Eastern Europe and which has proliferated across the United States. This notion of student-centered learning puts children in charge of exploring mathematics to their own joy and satisfaction, with potentially long-lasting results.

Navajo Math Circles is documents the meeting of two worlds: that of some of the country’s most accomplished mathematicians and math educators, with the children and teachers in the underserved, largely rural Navajo educational system.

Our Panelists:

  • Dr. Robert Klein – Executive Director of the Alliance of Indigenous Math Circles and Professor of Mathematics at Ohio University
  • Dr. Kamuela Yong – Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Hawaii, first Native Hawaiian to earn a Ph.D. in applied mathematics, and co-founder of Indigenous Mathematicians
  • Michael T. Charles – Graduate Student, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The Ohio State University, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) fellow, Navajo Nation
  • Irvilinda Bahe – Undergraduate student at Colorado State University, former Navajo Math Circles participant, Navajo Nation
  • Natanii Yazzie – Former Navajo Math Circles participant, Navajo Nation