Women have historically played important roles in initiating societal transformations, so I hope new generations of women will engage more with mathematical careers to have a meaningful impact in our society.
Mathematics professor Dr. Habiba Kadiri has been a faculty member at the University of Lethbridge since 2007. Her work is on number theory and has a computational aspect. Some typical questions addressed in this field are: How many primes are there up to an arbitrarily large number? Are there infinitely many prime numbers p such that p+2 is also prime? Can all positive integers be represented as the sum of other special integers?
What excites you about your work?
As a researcher in mathematics, what excites me most is when something gives in, when one finds a way to break a barrier: that "aha!" moment after struggling hard with a question. Plus, the excitement is amplified when it is in the frame of collaboration: it is more motivating to struggle with others, and then, it is so much more gratifying to share the success with them.
What sparked your interest in your field?
In my field, number theory, some of the most famous conjectures are often quite simple to state while at the same time still resisting the assaults of generations of great minds. The fact that anyone can experience the humbling experience of being stuck on a question is what intrigued me at first. Number Theory is a field rich in connections with many other areas of mathematics, physics, and computer science. Discovering some of these unexpected connections is also what initially sparked my interest.
Tell us about the first time you felt really excited about what you were learning?
I took a class with a professor in Bordeaux who had written an influential book in analytic number theory, in French. These books were very well written, so I enjoyed reading them. I discovered the Riemann zeta function and the famous conjecture associated with it. I was amazed that questions about prime numbers could be interpreted via the lens of Fourier analysis (the same tool we use to model the sound of music!).
What do you hope to accomplish through your work?
My work is at the intersection of number theory and complex analysis and has a computational aspect. The questions I am interested in require playing creatively with various tools from these domains. I love when I can train or bring together people with different expertise to explore these problems with me.
What words of inspiration would you like to share with the next generation of women and girls?
There is more than teaching and research (both excellent!) to careers in mathematical sciences. Mathematics frames and impacts our society in technology, finance, public health, security, environment, etc. Women have historically played important roles in initiating societal transformations, so I hope new generations of women will engage more with mathematical careers to have a meaningful impact in our society.
Dr. Kadiri recently sat as the chair of the EDI committee for the Canadian Mathematical Society and is currently one of the leaders of a PIMS Collaborative Research Group. This work includes a 240k award from the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and their ambitious goals include tackling a variety of central problems in analytic number theory and elevating a new generation of experts that is more representative of our diverse society.
Her column in February 2022's issue of MOSAIC (Mathematics, Outreach, Society, Accessibility, and Inclusiveness) About the necessity of collecting data to improve EDI in mathematics looks to explain why the CMS needs to collect data about the status of diversity across the mathematical community at large."
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