Famed scientist in residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and author of How to Bake Pi and The Art of Logic, Eugenia Cheng, will give the lecture “Character vs. Gender in Mathematics and Beyond,” at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 12, in Schroeder Hall, room 138 at Illinois State University.

A mathematician, pianist, and teacher, Cheng’s aim is to rid the world of “math phobia.” Her first popular math book, How to Bake Pi, was published by Basic Books in 2015 to widespread acclaim, including from the New York Times, National Geographic, Scientific American, and she was interviewed around the world including on the BBC, NPR, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Cheng and holds a Ph.D. in pure mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and conducts research in category theory and undergraduate teaching.

During her talk, Cheng will share what she has learned from teaching math to art students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago contrasted with years in more usual academic institutions—what put them off math, ways she has found to change their mind, and how this might be related to the gender imbalances in math, STEM, and beyond. Cheng will show how anyone can think like a mathematician to understand what people are really saying. Taking a careful scalpel to politics, privilege, sexism, and dozens of other real-world situations, she will show that math is not just about numbers and equations, but is about thinking better, and that it can help find clarity without losing nuance in this complex world.

She previously taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Chicago, and Nice.

This event is sponsored by the Harold K. Sage Foundation and the Illinois State University Foundation Fund, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the Department of Mathematics, the School of Biological Sciences, the Department of Chemistry, the School of Information Technology, the Center for Mathematics Science and Technology, and the Illinois Wesleyan University First Year Experience–Office of the Provost.

For additional information or special accommodations, please contact the Illinois State Department of Mathematics at math@ilstu.edu or (309) 438-8781.

Dr. Cheng will also be presenting her talk “The Art of Logic” at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, February 12, at Illinois Wesleyan University in the Center for Natural Science, room C102.