Windows and Mirrors: Latinx Women in Mathematical Biology

Tuesday, June 15 at 09:30am (PDT)
Tuesday, June 15 at 05:30pm (BST)
Wednesday, June 16 01:30am (KST)

SMB2021 SMB2021 Follow Tuesday (Wednesday) during the "MS07" time block.
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Vanessa Rivera Quinones (Latinxs and Hispanics in the Mathematical Sciences (LATHISMS), Puerto Rico), Alicia Prieto Langarica (Youngstown State University, United States of America)


Accounting for approximately 18% of the United States population, Latinxs and Hispanics are the second-largest racial/ethnic group, with the largest being white non-Hispanics. However, recent data shows that of the 1,960 new PhDs in the mathematical sciences in 2017–2018, 71 were earned by people of Latinx or Hispanic heritage, of which 34 were U.S. citizens—accounting for 3.6% and 1.7%, respectively. Of these 71 PhDs, eight were US Latina or Hispanic women, and six of the Latina or Hispanic women were non-US citizens (this includes U.S. green card holders). This stark underrepresentation begs us to ask: “When was the first time you had an undergraduate or graduate mathematics course with a Latinx or Hispanic professor? When was the first time it was a Latina or Hispanic woman?” This mini-symposium will feature talks by Latinx women whose research reflects the diversity within the areas of mathematical biology. This provides a window to their research and experiences, while also providing a mirror for aspiring mathematical biologists to see themselves reflected in this field.

Vanessa Rivera Quinones

(Latinxs and Hispanics in the Mathematical Sciences (LATHISMS), Puerto Rico)
"Life is a cooperative game: The interplay of individual behavior in group cooperation"
The evolution of cooperation has been a long-standing question both from a sociological and mathematical perspective. This in part, because of the common narrative that the world operates under a 'survival of the fittest' framework. However, cooperation is not only observed in many biological systems, it can also emerge in social dilemmas under certain conditions. We explore cooperative game theory as the mathematical lens to study the emergence of cooperation as an optimal strategy in social dilemmas. In particular,  we focus on predicting when coalitions will form, what are the joining actions or behaviors that groups can take, and what is the resulting pay-off. In this talk,  we provide an overview of common examples of the evolution of cooperation in social dilemmas, and interesting directions of future study.

Malena Espanol

(School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Arizona State University, United States of America)
"An Edge-preserving Iterative Method for Electrical Impedance Tomography"
Electrical impedance tomography (EIT) is a low-cost, portable, and noninvasive imaging system that does not use ionizing radiation. It has many potential applications including the continuous monitoring of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, which in particular is affecting many patients during the current Covid-19 pandemic. In this talk, we present an efficient numerical method that improves the reconstructed image of a human torso.

Selenne Bañuelos

(California State University Channel Islands, United States of America)
"A Mathematical Model with Combination Phage-Antibiotic Therapy and Immune System Response"
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious threat to global health today. A renewed interest in phage therapy – the use of bacteriophages to treat pathogenic bacterial infections – has emerged given the spread of AMR and lack of new drug classes in the antibiotic pipeline. There are few mathematical models that consider the effect of phage-antibiotic combination therapy. Moreover, some biological details such as the immune system response on phage have been neglected. To address these limitations, we utilized a mathematical model to examine the role of the immune response in concert with phage-antibiotic combination therapy compounded with the effects of the immune system on the phages being used for treatment. We explore the effect of phage-antibiotic combination therapy by adjusting the phage and antibiotics dose or altering the timing. The model results show that it is important to consider the host immune system in the model and that frequency and dose of treatment are important considerations for the effectiveness of treatment.

Alejandra Herrera Reyes

(Centre for Mathematical Medicine & Biology, School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham, United United Kingdom)
"Identifying unique observations in super-resolution microscopy with a spatiotemporal model"
Fluorescence microscopy has provided cellular biologists with quantifiable data, that can be paired with mathematical models to discover the mechanics of the imaged processes. Moreover, super-resolution microscopy achieves nanometer resolution images, allowing us to visualize the organization of proteins at nano-scales. dSTORM is a super-resolution technique that relies on the use of photo-switchable fluorophores. One known problem with dSTORM is that images obtained with this technique can suffer from recording a single photo-switchable fluorophore multiple times, possibly creating artificial features. This is especially relevant in the analysis of membrane B-cell receptors clustering, where spatial clustering might relate to immune activation. We developed a protocol to estimate the number of unique fluorophores present in the experiment by coupling their temporal (with a Markov-chain model) and spatial (with a Gaussian mixture model) dynamics within a maximum likelihood framework. Previous studies have used the temporal information, but they have not coupled it with the spatial information (both localization and localization estimation error). We present the results of our estimation protocol on simulated data, well-characterized DNA origami data, and B-cell receptor data with positive results. Our model is general enough to apply to other biological systems besides B-cell data and will enhance a microscopy technique that is widely used in biological applications.

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