Our aim is to educate, empower and create new frontiers by building on the
undaunted spirit of women in the mathematical sciences
The Infinite Possibilities Conference (IPC) is a national conference that is designed to promote, educate, encourage and support minority women interested in mathematics and statistics.
- 2005 IPC: Spelman College; Atlanta, GA.
- 2007 IPC: Building Diversity in Science, North Carolina State University and Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute; Raleigh, NC.
- 2010 IPC: Building Diversity in Science, Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics, University of California, Los Angeles; Los Angeles, CA.
- 2012 IPC: Building Diversity in Science and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Baltimore, MD.
African-American, Hispanic/Latina, and American Indian women have been historically underrepresented in mathematics. In 2002, less than 1% of the doctoral degrees in the mathematical sciences were awarded to American women from underrepresented minority groups. Even professionals who have succeeded in completing advanced degree programs in science and engineering fields can face inequities within their professional lives with respect to advancement and salaries. What is being envisioned through this conference is that in order to increase and support diversity in the mathematics community, a paradigm shift needs to occur in the way we think about the image of a mathematician and about the role a mathematician plays in society. Although some workshops and conferences have been created to address race/ethnicity or gender in the context of mathematics, no conference or program has been specially designed to address both.
Highlights of conference activities include: Professional development workshop series; Panel discussion on graduate studies in mathematics; Research talks given by professionals; Student poster sessions, Special activities for high school students; Roundtable discussions on experiences with mathematics; Awards banquet in honor of Dr. Etta Z. Falconer that will highlight special achievements in mathematics.
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Infinite Possibilities Conference was organized under the leadership of Leona Harris, PhD, Tanya Moore, PhD and Nagambal Shah, PhD. Together they assembled a committee of minority women mathematicians to create the first ever IPC.
Most of the initial conversations were really visioning conversations. What kind of workshops and speakers did we want to have? Should it only be African American women, or all women? What are the elements of our experience that really supported and empowered us in the field? It was a thrilling discussion to have, and to explore all that was possible generated a momentum and excitement for what was to come. In the end it was decided that there was a commonality in the experiences of underrepresented minority women that we wanted to address at the conference. It was also felt it would be important to have in attendance all aspects of the pipeline from students to professionals, in order to foster mentorship, opportunities to view role models and to encourage networking. In the conference program we wanted to have activities that would increase our mathematical knowledge and skills, but also speak to the issues we felt were unique to women and people of color in the field of mathematics. And we also decided that although this would be a conference designed with minority women in mind that it would be open to anyone who felt they could contribute or benefit from the experience. I know that the initial seeds planted in those early conversations will continue to blossom in the years to come.
The members of the first Steering Committee included: M. Ahinee Amamoo, MS, Leona Harris, PhD, Gayle Herrington, PhD, Tanya Moore, PhD, Iris Morgan, Nagambal Shah, PhD, Monica Stephens, PhD, Shree Whitaker Taylor PhD, Kimberly Weems, PhD. Also, a lot of support was given from the faculty at Spelman College especially members of the Local Organizing Committee which included: Angela Beauford, MS, Sylvia Bozeman, PhD, Colm Mulcahy, PhD, Nagambal Shah, PhD, and Monica Stephens, PhD. All of these individuals sacrificed their time, energy and creativity to begin something new. Dr. Leona Harris and Dr. Tanya Moore, former college study buddies, co-chaired IPC 2005. In particular, Dr. Nagambal Shah provided a lot of leadership, enthusiasm and dedication to support not only the vision for IPC but to support many of her former students who were embarking on unchartered territory. Her wisdom, faith and experience were key elements in translating IPC from an idea into a reality.
In April 2005, the first IPC was held, and it was a huge success! Nearly 150 women, students and professionals, arrived from all over the country to Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia to participate in a two-day conference experience. We were also fortunate to have sponsors that took a chance on us, and believed in our efforts enough to make financial commitments. With contributions from The Toyota Motor Corporation, National Security Agency, National Science Foundation and the US Army we were able to financially support students who wanted to attend and support the program we had designed for the conference. Highlights of the conference included research talks, discussion groups on experiences in mathematics, invited lectures given by Dr. Evelyn Boyd Granville (the second African American woman to receive a PhD in mathematics), Dr. Fern Hunt and Dr. Cleopatria Martinez, a banquet honoring Dr. Etta Falconer, and panel discussion on topics such as mentoring and balancing career and family. But, mostly was stands out in my mind are the women who attended. Hearing about their work, their research, their personal struggles and accomplishments, made me feel such a sense of hope and excitement for the future of women in mathematics.
Building Diversity in Science
The official home of IPC is Building Diversity in Science (BDIS). This mission of BDIS is to utilize science as a platform to empower students to pursue careers available with a science degree. Specifically, our aim is to equip these students with powerful tools to successfully navigate the academy and life. BDSI was founded in 2001. www.bdis.us
IPC Advisory Board
- Responsible for general oversight, use of IPC name, future direction of IPC and related
- Board members may or may not be involved in planning for specific conference years
- Board members have long term commitment to IPC
Members: Erika Camacho, Leona Harris, Lily Khadjavi, Tanya Moore, Nagambal Shah, Kim Weems
IPC Organizing Committee
- Consists of IPC Steering Committee and IPC Local Organizing Committee
- Responsible for planning and implementation of IPC in a specific conference year
2012 IPC Steering Committee
Jacqueline Akinpelu, The Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Lab
Leona Harris, The College of New Jersey
Gayle Herrington, Columbus State University
Raegan Higgins, Texas Tech University
Fern Hunt, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Karen Ivy, New Jersey City University
Lily Khadjavi (Conference Co-Chair), Loyola Marymount University
Dawn Lott, Delaware State University
Tanya Moore, Building Diversity in Science
Rehana Patel, Wesleyan University
Nagambal Shah, Spelman College
Kim Weems, North Carolina State University
Cristina Villalobos, University of Texas-Pan American
2012 IPC Local Organizing Committee (UMBC)
Sue Minkoff, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Nagaraj Neerchal, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Janet Rutledge, Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Renetta Tull, Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Development and PROMISE Program Director
Yi Huang, Assistant Professor of Statistics
DoHwan Park, Assistant Professor of Statistics
Manil Suri, Professor of Mathematics
John Zweck, Associate Professor of Mathematics
INFINITE POSSIBILITIES CONFERENCE 2010
March 18-20, 2010
University of California, Los Angeles
Co-hosted by IPAM and BDIS
Tanya Moore (Conference Chair)
View pictures from IPC 2007
Alicia Carriquiry, PhD, is professor of statistics at Iowa State University and serves on the editorial boards of several Latin American journals of statistics and mathematics. She has served on the Committee on Gender Differences in the Careers in Science, Engineering and Mathematics Faculty of the National Academy of Sciences. Her research has applications in nutrition and forensic science.
Iris Mack, PhD, is the second African-American woman to earn a PhD in applied mathematics from Harvard University. She also has an MBA from the London School of Business. She has been an investment banker and an MIT professor. She is founder and CEO of Phat Math, Inc., which publishes “edutainment” books to excite students about math. In addition, she teaches in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University.
Freda Porter, PhD, a member of the Lumbee tribe, earned her PhD in applied mathematics from Duke University in 1991. She is President and CEO of Porter Scientific, Inc., an environmental and information technology services firm with extensive experience addressing environmental issues at Department of Defense facilities, other government organizations, and industries.
- Erika Camacho, PhD
- Jamylle Carter, PhD
- Camille Daniel, MS
- Rotunda Floyd, MS
- Leona Harris, PhD
- Lily Khadjavi, PhD
- Tanya Moore, PhD
(Formerly Tanya Henneman)
- Kim Sellers, PhD
- Sonya Snedecor, PhD
- Kim Weems, PhD
The local organizing committee consisted of faculty in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (PAMS) at NCSU and the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI): Pam Arroway (Statistics), Jo-Ann Cohen (Mathematics), Amassa Fauntleroy (Mathematics), Marcia Gumpertz (Statistics and Office for Diversity), Wandra Hill (PAMS Multicultural Affairs Office), Chris Jones (SAMSI), Sastry Pantula (Statistics), Ralph Smith (Mathematics and SAMSI), William Swallow (Statistics), and Kim Weems (Statistics).
Download the 2005 IPC Proceedings
Historical moment at IPC 2005
Drs. Kimberly Weems, Tasha Innis, Evelyn Boyd Granville (the 2nd African American Woman to receive a PhD in Mathematics), Lee Lorch and Sherry Scott. Weems, Innis and Scott graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2000. The first university to award PhDs to three African-American women in the same year.