Plenary Address

April 4, 2015 | 9:30 am

The Intersection of Adversity, Resilience, Tenacity and Models of Photoreceptor Degeneration:

My Story Passion and Research


Faced by rapidly accelerating social, environmental, and medical/health challenges there is an urgent need to create a strong quantitative workforce. Addressing these challenges requires intense, aggressive, and innovative efforts at every level. As students, we need to work very hard, have tenacity, and be resilient so that we never give up, take every opportunity in our path, and ensure that we are educating ourselves as best as possible and becoming very quantitative regardless of our academic focus. As educators and members of a larger community we need to create an environment where our students can be more quantitative and thrive. In this talk I will provide insights into these challenges through my story (including highlights of my research) and what the story of our students should be if we work together to address these challenges.

About Professor Erika Camacho

Dr. Erika T. Camacho received her B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from Wellesley College in 1997. After earning her Ph.D. in applied mathematics at Cornell University in 2003, Dr. Camacho spent a year as a postdoctoral research associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She then held a tenure-track faculty position at Loyola Marymount University before joining the faculty at Arizona State University (ASU) in 2007. She was a 2013-2014 MLK Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (SMNS) at ASU.

Her leadership, scholarship, and mentoring have won her national recognition including the SACNAS Distinguished Undergraduate Mentoring Award in 2012, the Hispanic Women Corporation (HWC) the National Latina Leadership Award in 2011, recognition as one of 12 Emerging Scholars of 2010 by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, and a citation for mentoring and guiding undergraduates in research by the U.S. National Security Agency. Some local recognitions include the Dr. Manuel Servin Faculty Award for excellence in exemplifying achievement in research, mentorship of Hispanic students, leadership at ASU and in the community in 2013, the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Faculty Service Award in 2013, the 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40 Award in 2012, and one of three recipients of the ASU Faculty Women's Association Outstanding Faculty Mentoring Award in 2011.

Dr. Camacho's lifelong journey is to change the landscape of the field of Mathematics by greatly diversifying it and to this end she has made extensive contributions of service and outreach. Some of her service at the national level, includes serving as a member of the Diversity Advisory Committee for the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), the Advisory Board for the Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM), the Advisory Board for the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), the Advisory Board of the Infinite Possibilities Conference (IPC), the Math Alliance Regional Board, the Advisory Board of Underrepresented Students in Topology and Algebra Symposium (USTARS), the task force for expanding mathematical activities at SACNAS, the Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI) Diversity Committee, the Panel on Undergraduate Math-bio Programs (PUMP), and many other committess.

Dr. Camacho has been profiled and featured in Univision Nightly News in a two part segment entitled "Erika Camacho's Inspirational Story", the SIAM News "The Intersecting Lives of Two Mathematicians in East L.A.", the State Press, SACNAS News Feature Article "Leadership", Latino Perspectives Magazine "Camacho stands and delivers", the SACNAS New Feature Article "Building Confidence", and recently in Voces "I am the American Dream: Erika Tatiana Camacho, Ph.D.". She has been interviewed on CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News as part of a segment in honor of her high school mentor and teacher Jaime Escalante subject of the movie "Stand and Deliver" and in PBS Arizona Horizonte for her HWC Leadership Award.

Dr. Camacho's invited presentations range from panel presentations to invited research talks to keynote addresses, in front of national and prestigious audiences including (but not exhaustive) the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) Awards Ceremony, the Associateship and Fellowship Program Advisory Committee of the National Academies of Science, the MAA Invited Address at MathFest, the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), the Compact for Faculty Diversity's Annual Institute of Teaching and Mentoring, the Dorothy Wrinch Lecture in Biomathematics at Women in Math in New England Conference, and the Association of American Colleges & Universities TIDES Institute.

Dr. Camacho co-founded and co-directed the Applied Mathematical Sciences Summer Institute (AMSSI), dedicated to the recruitment of undergraduate women, underrepresented minorities, and those that might not otherwise have the opportunity. She was co-director of the Mathematical & Theoretical Biology Institute(MTBI) in 2011-2013, and focused on similar efforts. Dr. Camacho's passion is to continue the work and legacy of her mentors: to create opportunities for those individuals from marginalized communities and make graduate education attainable to them through intensive research. She involves students in her own work, which is at the interface of mathematics and its applications to biology and sociology.

Dr. Camacho's research projects include mathematically modeling photoreceptor interactions, photoreceptors' degeneration in retinitis pigmentosa (PR) and in a detached retina, the secondary death wave in RP, the rescue effect of RdCVF in a degenerative retina, gene networks within yeast, social networks, STEM migration, alcohol effects on a neuron firing, and fungal resistance under selective pressure. Among the publications she has authored/co-authored are "The Development and Interaction of Terrorist and Fanatic Groups" in Communications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulations; "Tracing the Progression of Retinitis Pigmentosa via Photoreceptor Interaction" in the Journal of Theoretical Biology; "Optimal Control in the Treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa" in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology; "On Positive Influence Dominating Sets in Social networks" in Theoretical Computer Science; "Dynamics of Two van der Pol Oscillators Coupled via a Bath" in the International Journal of Solids and Structures; and "Traveling Wave' Solution of FitzHugh Model with Cross-Diffusion" in Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering.