Mathematics Alumni in Research and Development

Angela Lavoie Barkan '01

angela lavoie

I have worked for the U.S. Department of Defense as an Applied Research Mathematician since June of 2002. I was hired into the Cryptanalysis Development Program. This is a three-year career development program designed to develop entry-level personnel. In this program I was required to take classes at the National Cryptologic School and I did rotational assignments in five different offices throughout the Agency. This gave me the opportunity to try several different types of jobs before deciding on my permanent office.

Since the development program, I have held three different positions.  We are encouraged to move around every few of the many aspects of working here that I really like.  During my first permanent position after the development program I did a lot of software development, but also started taking on a leadership role on the team.  From there, I stepped into a management position - and discovered I have a passion for leadership - setting the vision for an organization, mentoring, forging partnerships, and generally working with people.

A career in cryptanalysis requires a knowledge of Abstract Algebra, Number Theory, Statistics, and the list goes on. But, most importantly, a cryptanalyst needs to be able to think logically, work through difficult problems, and "think outside the box." These are all skills that I developed while at Saint Michael's. Saint Michael's gave me the mathematical background and the chance to think creatively, and that is what has made me successful in this field.

One perk of the job is that they pay for employees to continue their education. In May 2006, I earned my Master's Degree in Applied and Computational Mathematics from Johns Hopkins University.

Brian Adams '99

brian adams

I am a member of Technical Staff in an Optimization and Uncertainty Quantification group at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM. While projects and priorities are in constant flux (part of the excitement of working for a DOE lab), my current work is divided between modeling disease spread and developing and applying large-scale optimization software.

I leverage my Ph.D research experience in mathematical biology (in field of Computational Applied Mathematics at NC State Univ.) as the lead developer of a social network-based disease model, which characterizes disease spread (due to bioterror attack or natural outbreak) within a city’s population. The model is fine-grained, representing the movement of millions of individuals around hundreds of thousands of city locations on a timescale of order minutes. It allows representation of diseases spread by direct human contact (e.g., smallpox or influenza) or contamination (e.g., anthrax). My other work mostly relates to DAKOTA, a Sandia-developed open source software suite for optimization, sensitivity analysis, and uncertainty quantification. I develop and support the DAKOTA software and apply it to design of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), miniature silicon-based actuators, switches, and machines. The goal of this work is to determine MEMS geometries that meet performance (operational) criteria, yet are robust to manufacturing process uncertainties.

My experiences with the Saint Michael’s College mathematics department motivated me to attend graduate school in applied mathematics. My current work directly benefits from coursework in both the mathematics and computer science departments at Saint Michael's, and from the critical thinking and problem solving skills nurtured by the liberal arts environment.

See Brian's profile on the Mathematics Association of America Web site.

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