Solving Real-World Problems with High-Level Math
Dr. Jorge Rebaza sees so much beauty in mathematics, it’s only natural that he finds ways to connect math to almost everything else. Rebaza, professor of mathematics, teaches numerical analysis and applied mathematics at Missouri State. His recent research interests range from showing how your brain processes language to exploring a way to predict the spread of waterborne diseases.
Math professionals usually specialize in one of two areas. One is pure mathematics, which is largely abstract, and done for the sake of deeply exploring mathematics and constructing general results. The other is applied mathematics, which uses concepts from pure mathematics to solve problems and develop math tools for science, industry, business and other areas. He explains.
So you have a research project, and have gathered some quantitative data — which is any information that can be measured with numbers. What do you need next? Mathematical modeling, Rebaza said.
One project he recently worked on was predicting the spread of cholera in Haiti through the use of mathematics.
Although they have those results, he continues to generalize the theory to make it more reliable. But Rebaza doesn’t just work with Missouri State students. For six years, he and other MSU math professors have been involved with a National Science Foundation sponsored program called Research Experiences for Undergraduates in Mathematics.
Each summer, nine students from universities across the country come to Missouri State for eight weeks to work on cutting-edge research.
Becoming a host school for this program is competitive; only about 50 schools in the nation have hosted. He is proud of the work the students do and hopes the research funding can continue in order to offer more and more experiences like this for students.