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Maxine Elena Calle


Hello! I’m a Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania studying mathematics, and my research is in algebraic topology. This area of math is all about studying how abstract shapes can be stretched, squished, glued together, decomposed, and otherwise deformed. I spend lots of time making little doodles, scribbling them out, and then putting them back again. 

I discovered my unexpected love of abstract mathematics while I was an undergraduate at Reed College, and I quickly came to appreciate the value of good, thoughtful mathematical communication. I believe that mathematical literacy, and scientific literacy more generally, should never be a barrier to opportunity. My goal as a science communicator is to create an environment where science can be accessible and enjoyable for everyone. 

I’m delighted to be working with The Conversation this summer to help bridge the gap between academics and the public, and I’m very grateful to the AAAS and the AMS for providing me with this unique opportunity to enter into the world of science communication.



Proving Fermat’s last theorem: 2 mathematicians explain how building bridges within the discipline helped solve a centuries-old mystery

Does the direction water rotates down the drain depend on which hemisphere you’re in? Debunking the Coriolis effect in your sink (Edited by Maxine)

Events that never happened could influence the 2024 presidential election – a cybersecurity researcher explains situation deepfakes (Edited by Maxine)

Eliminating bias in AI may be impossible – a computer scientist explains how to tame it instead (Edited by Maxine)

Will I ever need math? A mathematician explains how math is everywhere – from soap bubbles to Pixar movies (Edited by Maxine)

Your genetic code has lots of ‘words’ for the same thing – information theory may help explain the redundancies (Edited by Maxine)

X marks the unknown in algebra -- but X's origins are a math mystery (Edited by Maxine)

Virtual reality has negative side effects – new research shows that can be a problem in the workplace (Edited by Maxine)

A brief illustrated guide to ‘scissors congruence’ − an ancient geometric idea that’s still fueling cutting-edge mathematical research

Elon Musk aims to turn Twitter into an ‘everything app’ – a social media and marketing scholar explains what that is and why it’s not so easy to do (Edited by Maxine)

Heritage algorithms combine the rigors of science with the infinite possibilities of art and design (Edited by Maxine)

The Conversation on Water | Expert panel (video) 

3 reasons we use graphic novels to teach math and physics (Edited by Maxine)

Caroline Herschel was the first female astronomer, but she still lacks name recognition two centuries later (Edited by Maxine)

What happens if you need to pee while you're asleep? (Edited by Maxine)

A young person with long hair, wearing a rust-colored shirt, leans forward slightly and looks into the camera
Photo Credit: Nina Johnson

University of Pennsylvania

Fellowship Sponsor: American Mathematical Society

Fellowship Host: The Conversation U.S.