California State University, Northridge associate math professor Maria Rita D’Orsogna is spending her spring break this year in India, sharing the results of her research on particle clusters at an international gathering of some of the top researchers in the world.
The Indo-American Frontiers of Science symposium is the National Academy of Sciences premiere activity for distinguished young scientists. Unlike meetings that focus on a narrow area of science, the symposium allows participants to explore innovative research ideas across a wide variety of fields and to develop new networks that they can tap into as they progress in their individual fields.
“It is quite an honor for me to be able to participate in such a program, and it’s an honor for CSUN because it reflects on the caliber of work that so many of us here at the university are doing,” said D’Orsogna about taking part in the symposium in Agra, India, on April 7 through April 10.
Attendees are selected by a committee of academy members from among young researchers who have already made recognized contributions to science, including recipients of major national fellowships and awards who have been identified as future leaders in science.
D’Orsogna’s research interests include biological swarming, studying how natural agents, or particles, self-organize, or form, into the coherent patterns that are seen everywhere. Her research examines discrete models of self-propelling, interacting agents and the arising morphologies they create as the relevant parameters and environmental conditions are changed. By using statistical mechanics, she is able to analyze these natural and artificial ensembles, their stability and passage to the continuum.
She also uses simple mathematical and physical modeling to try to understand the basic phenomenology driving complex biological processes, which has applications in understanding how viruses work. She is also using mathematics and game theory to understand how the interactions between residents in a community with law enforcement can affect crime, and in particular the roles informants play in reducing crime rates in neighborhoods.
The Frontiers of Science symposium format is designed to encourage one-on-one conversations and informal group discussions in which participants continue in discussions sparked by formation presentations. The goal is to remove communication barriers between fields and encourage collaboration among the attendees.
D’Orsogna said she is looking forward to hearing what her colleagues in others disciplines are doing and learning from their research.
“It’s an intellectual exchange of different opinions and different views,” she said. “It should be quite interesting.”
D’Orsogna joined CSUN’s Department of Mathematics in 2007. She has a doctorate in physics from UCLA.