My research interests are in mathematical biology and applied mathematics. Specifically, I build mathematical models to solve for optimal foraging strategies given different structures of plant communities. Studies have shown that plants grown in plots with higher diversity may suffer less damage from herbivory. We want to understand the conditions on insect foragers and plant communities under which plants are indirectly defended by their neighbors, a phenomenon called associational resistance.

I received poster awards from presenting my work at the Society for Mathematical Biology Annual Meeting (SMB 2017) and at the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Conference on the Life Sciences (SIAM LS18).

For more information, my CV is here and my resume is here.

Community and Service

I am highly involved with the University of Utah student chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM), and served as president from 2018-2019. Our events include monthly lunch discussions on topics related to diversity, inclusion, and identity in math; a Speaker Series where we bring inspiring women mathematicians to campus to talk about their research, career, and outreach experiences; panels for undergraduate students to learn about grad school and how to apply; and a panel for graduate students to hear professors briefly describe their research, to aid in the choosing of an advisor.

In Fall 2018, we started a mentoring program that matches undergraduate students with an interest in mathematics to graduate students in our department. We would love to have you sign up as either a mentee or a mentor! For more information, see: AWM Mentoring.

Please contact me if you have ideas for events, have feedback for AWM, or would like to volunteer. We hope to see you at our events! You can find our schedule here.


Current Teaching

Fall 2018 - Spring 2019: Mathematical Biology Journal Club (MATH 7875).
Our goal is to provide guidance and feedback to early graduate students interested in mathematical biology. We develop skills in reading, analyzing, and presenting journal articles.

Past Teaching

Spring 2018: Accelerated Engineering Calculus II (MATH 1321).

Fall 2017: Differential Equations and Linear Algebra (MATH 2250).

Fall 2015 - Spring 2017: Trigonometry (MATH 1060).

About Me

I graduated in 2014 from Pomona College in Claremont, CA, as a math major with a dance minor. The first time I considered going to graduate school was at the Summer Program for Women in Mathematics (SPWM 2013) at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, this program stopped running after my cohort's year due to lack of funding. I feel incredibly grateful for this program. Working on math with a cohort made up entirely of women was exhilarating, fun, and inspiring. I remember one night the group was staying up late to finish a problem set and someone mentioned a Mobius strip, which I had never encountered before. We spent the next hour cutting Mobius strips in half over and over, examining the resulting knots formed by intertwining paper loops. The courses, guest speakers, and panelists introduced me to types of math and careers that I never knew existed. That summer was the first time I learned about a cellular automaton and an SIR model. It was my first experience dabbling in mathematical biology.

My senior year of undergrad, I asked my professors for a list of math bio graduate programs. After applying to schools and later visiting for recruitment weekends, I chose to attend the University of Utah for its research, location, and very importantly: community. I loved the genuine camaraderie among the grad students when I visited, and I liked how supportive and helpful they were toward each other in math and life. The summer before my first year, I joined another amazing and inspiring community of women mathematicians through the EDGE Program (2014). This program gave me a cohort to support each other throughout our grad school careers and beyond. We still have an email chain with occasional life and school updates, and it always inspires and motivates me to hear about the awesome things everyone is working on! Another reason I am extremely grateful for EDGE is that it helped both emotionally and mathematically prepare me for grad school. I acutely remember crying one night because I felt so lost in the material; but then I recovered, tried again, asked for help, and eventually made it to the other side. This experience more than anything else prepared me for the ups and downs of math grad school. I knew it was going to be incredibly difficult, but I also knew that it would be okay, and that together with the people around me we could work through it. I am now in my fifth year of grad school, and I am still thankful for what SPWM and EDGE did for me. I want to help lift others along their math paths, just like the people who came before me did for me.

Recent & Upcoming Talks

Research Group Meetings

I presented my research at sLaM on 3/29/19 and 10/26/18, and at Physiology Group on 2/12/19 and 9/17/18.

Recruitment Lightning Talks

I gave a brief summary of my research, "Information, Foraging Behavior, and Environment," to the accepted grad student recruits on Friday, 3/22/19.

Expanding Your Horizons, Outreach at SLCC

We taught 30 girls, grades 6-10, how to fold Schwarz lanterns, introduced ideas of approximation and surface area, and talked about college on Saturday, 3/9/19.

Undergraduate Colloquium

I presented my talk: "Foraging in an Uncertain World" on Wednesday, 9/5/18.

SIAM Conference on the Life Sciences

I presented my poster: "Why Might Plants Prefer Smart Herbivores?" on Tuesday, 8/7/18.

MSRI Summer School

We gave our group presentation about cost-minimizing behavior and geometry for the mimosa pudica plant, "To fold or not to fold," on Friday, 6/29/18, at Janelia Research Campus.

Oral Examination

I presented "Modeling insect behavior with foraging theory for associational resistance" and passed my oral exam to become a Ph.D. candidate on Tuesday, 6/5/18.

IMA Workshop for Women in Mathematical Biology

I presented my poster "In Good Company: Plant Neighbor Effects on Foragers" on Wednesday, 5/30/18.

GSAC Colloquium

I gave a 5-minute talk "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" in a series of micro-talks about graduate research on Tuesday, 4/17/18.

Red, White, & U Day

I presented my poster "Associational Resistance and Optimal Foraging" for admitted University of Utah undergraduate students on Saturday, 4/14/18.

Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics

I served on a panel and co-lead a breakout session about math graduate school on Saturday, 1/27/18.

USAC Graduate School Panel

I served on a panel about graduate school life for undergrad students in our math department on Wednesday, 11/15/17.

Contact Information

Office: LeRoy E. Cowles Building (LCB), Building #013, Room 311
Email: hill at math dot utah dot edu