6 out of 200: Logic and unequivocal
Meet Kristina Mallory in this Q&A series with 6 out of 200 mathematicians and computer scientists participating at the 3rd Heidelberg Laureate Forum, August 23–28, 2015. 26 Laureates (Abel Prize, Fields Medal, Nevanlinna Prize, Turing Award) will attend the forum together with them. For a full week Heidelberg in Germany will be the hot spot of mathematics and computer science.
Name? Kristina Mallory
What is your current position? PhD student at Brown University, USA
What is the focus of your research? My research primarily involves analytical and perturbation approaches for studying nonlinear PDEs, dynamical systems, and solutions. Much of my work addresses problems in mathematical physics and chemistry, including the study of solitary waves in Bose-Einstein Condensates (BECs). Currently, I am exploring possible theoretical explanations for the occurrence of localized oscillons in nonlinear systems, as well as investigating connections between PDEs and geometry.
Why are you interested in physical questions, for example in your work with BECs? Simply put, I am drawn to physical problems because I am interested in the physical world. Many of my personal curiosities exist in physics and biology, and I relish the opportunity to illuminate the physical mysteries we take for granted.
Why did you become a mathematician? Mathematics has set laws. Mathematics follows logically. More often than not, mathematics is unequivocal. Throughout the solution process, one can always rest in objective certainty, and I became a mathematician for the thrill of unmistakably solving for “x”.
Anything like a favourite project? I wrote a paper last year detecting chaotic regimes in the parameter space of solutions to a rather general dynamical system which required me to spend quite a bit of time studying bifurcation and chaos theory. This was my first time examining solutions to differential equations in a predominantly qualitative manner and really my first experience with complicated dynamics. It was this project that precipitated my love for dynamical systems. The vast complexity and intricacy a simple deterministic system can produce genuinely astounds me.
What about your life beyond research? Literature, music, art, philosophy! I enjoy anything that can particularly move me — anything powerful and beautiful. Mathematics offers this kind of wonder as well, but aside from that, much of my free time involves writing nonfiction or poetry, playing the guitar or the piano, reading classic or philosophical literature, drawing or studying art… And there’s always music playing (right now it’s Pink Floyd’s The Wall).
Why did you apply for the HLF15? As I am still in the early stages of my career, I stand to learn much from those who have already succeeded. I applied to the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in hopes that I might gain valuable insight into the research process, including unique ways to view a new problem, the implications we can gather from our results, and the wide-ranging applications of mathematic
Do you have any Laureates on your list, you would love to talk to? I would love the opportunity to speak with Vladimir Voevodsky about his work on homotopy theory as I have an increasing interest in topology and have worked with the very applied side of this subject (as it relates to differential equations).
Wish you an inspiring time in Heidelberg!