Return to News

Math PhD Candidate Invited to Prestigious Event in Germany

Graduate student in Mathematics Monika Pichler was selected to participate at the 6th Heidelberg Laureate Forum this September, a conference that connects laureates in mathematics and computer science with students. Held in the town of Heidelberg in southwestern Germany, the Forum brought together students and researchers from over sixty countries to encourage the next generation of math and computer science students to continue their careers in science.

At the forum, Monika presented a poster and gave a short overview of her research, which focuses on inverse problems for partial differential equations. Solving an inverse problem is similar to the work of a detective, who reconstructs his case based on evidence: he takes measurements, makes observations, and examine clues to figure out how everything looked before he arrived at the scene. You might have solved an inverse problem yourself as early as childhood, when you learned to analyze tracks on the ground during your hikes and then be able to tell who or what passed by that area before you arrived.

6th Heidelberg Laureate Forum 2018, Heidelberg, Germany, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/HLF

Monika works on inverse problems for Maxwell’s Equations, which describe the behavior of electromagnetic waves, a practical application of which could be medical imaging devices. Here, the problem is that researchers and doctors want to know what’s going on inside someone’s body, but they don’t want to cut them open. Using electromagnetic radiation, you can get clues as to what’s happening, but you need equations like the ones Monika works on to put those pieces together to figure it out: the detective that puts all the clues together to solve the mystery.

Attending the forum allowed Monika to meet and converse with giants of the field at meals, events, and activities designed to facilitate connections and exchange of ideas and advice.

Her favorite talk was given by Constantinos Daskalakis, a Greek computer scientist and professor at MIT who was awarded the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize in 2018, a prestigious mathematics award recognizing his contributions to theoretical computer science. Daskalakis spoke about the concept of equilibrium and its role in disciplines from game theory to the training of generative adversarial networks.

Monika is in her final year as a Ph.D. student and is currently also pursuing a graduate certificate in Biotechnology. She plans to work as a computational scientist in the biotech industry after graduating.

To learn more about Monika and her work, visit her website.

« »