Meet MACSI’s Women in Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics has been successful in achieving the very prestigious Bronze Athena SWAN Department Award. The Athena SWAN Charter encourages and recognises commitment to combating under-representation and advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) roles within the higher education and research sectors. This year we will submit our application for a Silver Athena Swan award demonstrating the ongoing commitment to increasing the visibility of female role models in mathematics and statistics.

Today is International Women’s Day and the theme is #EmbraceEquity. It reminds us that as women we have a distinctive voice and, with that, a responsibility to show and demand equity. With this in mind let’s take a few minutes to read about some of the University of Limerick’s women who are blazing a trail and champions of inclusion and fairness.

Dr Romina Gaburro

Dr Romina Gaburro is a Lecturer at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Limerick (UL). She obtained an MSc in Mathematics from the Università degli Studi di Trieste, and a PhD in Mathematics from UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology), followed by postdoctoral fellowships in Trieste and at UL. Dr Gaburro is heavily involved in working on issues of gender balance, equality, diversity and inclusion in STEM. She is currently serving on the Irish Mathematical Society committee, where she was recently appointed Chair of the newly formed ‘Irish Committee for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Mathematics’. She is also the country coordinator for Ireland in the European Women in Mathematics organisation, and the Irish ambassador for the International Mathematical Union Committee for Women in Mathematics. Romina was also recently appointed Vice-Chair of the Royal Irish Academy ’Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences committee’.

Romina’s research area is inverse problems for partial differential equations with applications to geophysical exploration, medical imaging and materials’ characterisation. Romina has given several invited presentations at prominent international conferences and organised several scientific events, including two summer schools on inverse problems in geophysics at the Lake Como School of Advanced Studies in 2021 and 2023 and the current 2023 semester programme ‘Rich and Nonlinear Tomography: a multidisciplinary approach’ at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge, where she was also awarded a Simons Foundation Fellowship.

Featured Publications:

N. Donlon, R. Gaburro, S. Moskow and I. Woods, Stability and reconstruction of a special type of anisotropic conductivity in magneto-acoustic tomography with magnetic induction, SIAM Journal on Imaging Sciences (2023), in press.

S. Foschiatti, R. Gaburro and E. Sincich, Lipschitz stability for the inverse conductivity problem for a conforml class of anisotropic conductivities, Inverse Problems 31 (1) (2015) 015008.

G. Alessandrini and R. Gaburro, The local Calderón problem and the determination at the boundary of the conductivity, Communications in Partial Differential Equations 34 (8) (2008), 918-936.

Prof. Natalia Kopteva

Prof. Natalia Kopteva is an Associate Professor at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics of the University of Limerick. Her research expertise is in the area of Numerical Analysis, or, in other words, in the development of mathematics that underlies computational tools and techniques for use in the wider scientific and engineering community. Academic positions at Moscow State University, University College Cork, University of Limerick, and University of Strathclyde. Authored 1 edited book, 1 book chapter, and 60 publications in international refereed journals. Editor of 6 international journals, 3 of which are Q1. Natalia has presented 13 plenary and 20 invited lectures at international conferences and workshops. She serves on the Ethics Committee of the European Mathematical Society. In September 2022 she was appointed for the role of University of Limerick Research Integrity Officer

Featured Publications:

N. Kopteva, Error analysis of the L1 method on graded and uniform meshes for a fractional-derivative problem in two and three dimensions, Math. Comp., 88 (2019), 2135-2155

A. Demlow & N. Kopteva, Maximum-norm a posteriori error estimates for singularly perturbed elliptic reaction-diffusion problems, Numer. Math., 133 (2016), 707-742

N. Kopteva, Maximum-norm a posteriori error estimates for singularly perturbed reaction-diffusion problems on anisotropic meshes, SIAM J. Numer. Anal., 53 (2015), 2519-2544

Prof. Sarah Mitchell

Sarah Mitchell is an Associate Professor in Applied Mathematics at the University of Limerick. She obtained her undergraduate degree in 1999 (MMath in Mathematics) and her PhD in 2003, both from the University of Bath, UK. Afterwards, she took up two postdoc positions: firstly, in Canada (University of British Columbia, 2003-2006), and secondly, in South Africa (University of Cape Town, 2006-2008). In January 2008, Sarah began a lectureship position in Applied Mathematics, at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Limerick. Sarah became Deputy Head of Department in September 2013 and then took over as Head of Department in September 2016. She continued in this role until August 2020.  

Sarah co-led the Department’s successful application to become one of the first Departments in the country to obtain an Athena SWAN bronze award in 2015, and also co-led the successful renewal in 2019.  She is committed to advancing gender equality in STEM, and has a particular interest in highlighting the range of exciting careers involving STEM (and in particular applied mathematics) to all students in second level education.

Her main research interests are in numerical and mathematical modelling of moving boundary problems relevant to solidification (such as casting of metals) or melting (such as glaciers) and modelling drug diffusion in glassy polymers.

Featured Publications:

S.L. Mitchell, M. Vynnycky, “On the numerical solution of two-phase Stefan problems with heat-flux boundary conditions”, Journal of Computational & Applied Mathematics, 264, 49-64, 2014.

S.L. Mitchell, T.G. Myers, “Application of Standard and Refined Heat Balance Integral Methods to One-Dimensional Stefan Problems”, SIAM Review, 52(1), 57-86, 2010.

S.L. Mitchell, M. Vynnycky, “Finite-difference methods with increased accuracy and correct initialization for one-dimensional Stefan problems”, Applied Mathematics & Computation, 215, 1609-1621, 2009.

Dr Doireann O’Kiely

Dr. Doireann O’Kiely is an applied mathematician, working on the mathematical modelling of real-world physical systems. Doireann’s work focuses mostly on fluid mechanics and elasticity, but she is also interested in chemical reactions, heat flow and other physical processes. She uses differential equations to describe, understand and predict the behaviour of these physical systems.  Examples include the deformation of thin sheets (how elastic membranes wrinkle and how metal sheets can be reshaped), and chemical reactions (how toxic spills are cleaned and how batteries charge).  Doireann has worked at the University of Limerick since 2020, having originally visited as an undergraduate summer intern in 2011 before finishing a BSc from University College Dublin and spending time at the University of Oxford as an MSc student, PhD student and postdoctoral researcher.

Featured Publications:

A coupled electrochemomechanical model for the cycling of a Cu15Si4-hosted silicon nanowire. K.M. Devine, D. O’Kiely, M. Vynnycky, F. Silveri, A. Tomassi, S. Abinaya, H. Geaney, K. M. Ryan, Journal of Power Sources (2022)

Impact on floating thin elastic sheets: a mathematical model of wrinkling dynamics D. O’Kiely, F. Box, O. Kodio, J. Whiteley & D. Vella, Physical Revies Fluids

Prof. Norma Bargary

Prof. Norma Bargary is a Professor of Data Science & Statistical Learning in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at the University of Limerick. She is co-director of MACSI research centre and UL vice-Director of the SFI Centre for Research Training in Foundations of Data Science. Her research focuses on the development of statistical models for large, high-dimensional data that are measured over time (e.g. data measured using sensors, human movement data, etc.). She has extensive experience working with collaborators in a range of research areas including medicine, biology, sports science, psychology, and with industry partners. She has played a leading role in numerous successful European and national grant applications with a total of €1.6 million awarded to her as PI. She also has a keen interest in engaging with researchers, the media, and the public on the appropriate use of statistics and is the first of two Royal Statistical Society Statistical Ambassadors to be based in Ireland.

Featured Publications:

Call to increase statistical collaboration in sports science, sport and exercise medicine and sports physiotherapy (2021) Kristin L Sainani, David N Borg, Aaron R Caldwell, Michael L Butson, Matthew S Tenan, Andrew J Vickers, Andrew D Vigotsky, John Warmenhoven, Robert Nguyen, Keith R Lohse, Emma J Knight, Norma Bargary. British journal of sports medicine, 55 (2), 118-122.

Bivariate functional principal components analysis: considerations for use with multivariate movement signatures in sports biomechanics (2019) John Warmenhoven, Stephen Cobley, Conny Draper, Andrew Harrison, Norma Bargary, Richard Smith. Sports Biomechanics, 18 (1), 10-27

Clustering longitudinal profiles using P-splines and mixed effects models applied to time-course gene expression data (2014) Norma Coffey, John Hinde, Emma Holian. Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, 71, 14-29

Dr Helen Purtill

Dr. Helen Purtill is a lecturer in Statistics in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Science & Engineering. She joined the department in September 2013, having previously worked as a biostatistician at the Statistical Consulting Unit (SCU) and the Centre for Support and Training in Analysis and Research (CSTAR) in the University of Limerick. Her current research area is the development of profiles using cluster and latent class methodologies in longitudinal population studies such as Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) and The Irish LongituDinal Study of Aging (TILDA). She has considerable research experience in statistical modelling of population health data, design and analysis of randomised control trials, meta-analyses, validity and reliability studies, power calculations and sample sizing for clinical and observational studies.

Featured Publications:

O’Neill, A., O’Sullivan, K., O’Keeffe, M., Hannigan, A., Walsh, C. and Purtill, H., 2018. Development of pain in older adults: a latent class analysis of biopsychosocial risk factors. Pain159(8), pp.1631-1640. DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001251 

Kennedy, N., O’sullivan, K., Hannigan, A. and Purtill, H., 2017. Understanding pain among older persons: Part 2—the association between pain profiles and healthcare utilisation. Age and ageing46(1), pp.51-56. DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afw128

Uszynski, M.K., Purtill, H., Donnelly, A. and Coote, S., 2016. Comparing the effects of whole-body vibration to standard exercise in ambulatory people with Multiple Sclerosis: a randomised controlled feasibility study. Clinical rehabilitation30(7), pp.657-668. DOI: 10.1177/0269215515595522

Dr Philippa Wilkes

Dr. Philippa Wilkes is a lecturer in Statistics and Data Science in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Limerick. Her research interests lie in the use of data science with the rich data produced within the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors, with focus on chemometrics and using functional data analysis to model spectroscopic and process data.  Philippa holds a BSc and PhD in Chemistry from University College Dublin (UCD) and spent over 8 years in the pharmaceutical industry with multinational companies including MSD and Schering-Plough.  Her roles were diverse within the manufacture of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), including research & development and global technical operations.  After completing a HDip in Data Analytics and an MSc in Data Science she worked as a postdoctoral researcher for MASCI, funded by SFI through SSPC.  Her research focused on the application of applied statistics and data analytics to solve pharmaceutical data challenges in collaboration with SSPC and industry partners, utilising her multidisciplinary background.

Dr. Shirin Moghaddam

Shirin Moghaddam is a Lecturer in Statistics & Data Science at the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, UL. She obtained her PhD from University of Galway on Bayesian Imputation of Right Censored Data in Time-To-Event Studies. Her primary research interests are Statistical Modelling, Clinical Decision Making, and Machine Learning approaches, in particular, their application in cancer research. Shirin has collaborations nationally with research groups at UCD Conway Institute, UCC and NUIG, and internationally with University of Connecticut and University of Hartford in USA on identifying new biomarkers and developing prediction models in medical research. Shirin is the vice-chair of the Young Statisticians’ Section of the Irish Statistical Association and also a member of Cancer Trials Ireland.

Featured Publication:

O’Donnell, Autumn & Wolsztynski, Eric & Cronin, Michael & Moghaddam, Shirin. (2023). Improving the Post-Operative Prediction of BCR-Free Survival Time with mRNA Variables and Machine Learning. Cancers. 15. 10.3390/cancers15041276.

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