Inaugural Symposium: The Power of the Liberal Arts — Mary Lou Zeeman on How Math Can Save the World


Mary Lou Zeeman

The Power of the Liberal Arts,” the symposium that is prelude to the inauguration of Clayton S. Rose as Bowdoin’s 15th president, comprises leaders from the worlds of business, design, government, higher education and public health. The symposium will be held in Pickard Theater, Memorial Hall, 2 p.m.­–5 p.m., Friday, October 16, 2015. In advance of the discussion, we continue a series of participant profiles.

Mary Lou Zeeman, Bowdoin’s R. Wells Johnson Professor of Mathematics, is an accomplished mathematician who uses her knowledge and expertise to increase our understanding of the earth and its health.

Zeeman’s vast research interests range from dynamical systems, population dynamics and fisheries, to neuroscience, endocrinology, climate and sustainability.

Zeeman argues that environmental sustainability relies on the integration of an array of disciplines — notably policy, economics and environmental science.

Mathematicians, she claims, have the ability to bridge all of them. “But that requires an incredible amount of interdisciplinary courage,” she noted in a campus talk.

Zeeman is co-director of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, a group of researchers from across the world who are developing the mathematics needed to better understand the earth’s climate.

She is also on the leadership team of the Mathematics of Planet Earth initiative, an international effort by researchers seeking to integrate mathematical sciences in the quest to solve crises such as climate change, dwindling biodiversity, pollution and epidemics.

She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Oxford and her Ph.D. from the University of California–Berkeley.

Leave a Comment