Modeling is an iterative process that helps us understand complex systems, make predictions, and implement control strategies. My research has been focused on developing a theoretical modeling framework to study the growth and mechanics of arteries, as well as developing curricular materials to teach mathematical modeling. I thoroughly enjoy involving undergraduate students in research projects as a means to help develop critical thinking skills, creativity, problem solving, and intellectual independence.

Mechanics and Growth of Elastic Tissues

The mechanical description of growth is potentially of great interest in many different fields as growth plays a fundamental role in both normal development processes and in many pathological disorders. Growth, in general, is a process of enormous complexity involving genetic, biochemical, and physical components at many different scales and with complex interactions. Many issues in tissue growth are not yet well understood and there is a need to ascertain the fundamental interactions among mechanical stresses, changes in geometry and growth processes. The focus of my research is to study the development of residual stress induced by differential growth of biological structures and to understand the role of these stresses in modifying material properties.

Curriculum Development

Through my own interdisciplinary work, I became passionate about developing materials to teach modeling to undergraduate students and fostering collaborative experiences in the classroom. At St. Olaf College, I led a group of faculty in developing an interdisciplinary minor in mathematical biology. Dr. Anne Walter (Department of Biology, St. Olaf College) and I designed and co-taught the core mathematical biology course, which led to the development of the textbook Exploring Mathematical Modeling in Biology Through Case Studies and Experimental Activities. Dr. Walter and I wrote an article describing our adventures in co-teaching (found here). At the 2021 SIMIODE EXPO, we led a minicourse that provided an overview of this course (found here) and example of a case study from our textbook (found here).

Community Outreach

I enjoy opportunities to engage with my local community and to help people understand what it means to be a mathematician. I have given talks on women in mathematics at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and to a local chapter of P.E.O., and motivational math talks to middle school students. At St. Olaf College I taught the Mathematics Practicum, a January Interim course where teams of students work on consulting problems solicited from area businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations, and I ran a similar course at UNC Asheville as part of the PIC Math program.