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AWM Distinguished Speaker Series

Dr. Emily Peters, Loyola University Chicago, will visit campus November 17-18, 2022 to deliver the fall term AWM Distinguished Lectures.

Dr. Peters earned a Ph.D. degree in mathematics in 2009 from the University of California at Berkeley where she worked with the distinguished mathematician and Fields Medal laureate Vaughan Jones. Currently she is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Loyola University Chicago. Before going to Loyola, she worked at the University of New Hampshire, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and most recently was a Boas Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Northwestern University. Dr. Peters has received many awards for her work, including the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor award at Berkeley, and she has received both graduate and postdoctoral fellowships for her research.

Dr. Peters’ research interests are in, broadly, quantum symmetry, and more narrowly, subfactors/fusion categories. She uses planar algebras and “proof by pictures” when possible, and also studies knots and their invariants. Her mathematical hobby is teaching geometric topics (polyhedra and polytopes, decomposition problems, Archimedian geometry, etc.) in math circles and summer programs.

Dr. Peters will give two talks at UO:

Title: Shapes of surfaces
Undergraduate lecture appropriate for a general audience
Thursday, November 17th, 2-3pm
208 University Hall

It is easy, as an outsider, to see that there is a qualitative difference between an apple and a donut. But now imagine that you are a nearsighted ant, walking around one of these surfaces: how can you be sure you are on a toroidal donut and not a spherical pastry? Happily, the tool we use to determine this – called the Euler characteristic – is straightforward enough that its computation is not much beyond the ability of an ant!

Title: Proof by pictures
Graduate level lecture
Friday, November 18th, 12-1pm
210 University Hall

Maybe you’ve heard of diagram algebras, diagram categories, spiders, planar algebras, or something similar. And you’re wondering, is this really math? Are the pictures an analogy or are they actual mathematical objects? Happily, there are rigorous mathematical frameworks that have pictures as their ingredients. I’ll tell you about some of the most exciting examples, including the Temperley-Lieb algebra (and its relation to knot theory), the color-counting planar algebra (and the five-color theorem), and the extended Haagerup subfactor (joint work with Bigelow, Morrison and Snyder).