Applying Mathematical Principles to the ‘Real World’
Padmanabhan “Padhu” Seshaiyer grew up in his native India dreaming about how to solve “real world” problems through mathematics. Now, a noted mathematician at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA where he is living out his passion, Padhu is also on a personal mission to change the often-negative perception and image that students have about math.
“When I hear a student in middle school, high school or college say ‘I hate math,’ I take it as a personal challenge to change their attitude towards mathematics,” says Padhu, Associate Dean for the College of Science and professor of Mathematical Sciences at George Mason University. At George Mason, he also serves as director of the STEM Accelerator Program in the College of Science and director of COMPLETE (Center for Outreach in Mathematics Professional Learning and Educational Technology).
In describing his work as a scientist in applied mathematics –an endeavor that involves working with a wide range of researchers in other disciplines including neurosurgery, aerodynamics, biology, and academia to solve complex scientific and engineering problems — he says: “The diversity that mathematics provides in multidisciplinary problem solving and the connections it provides to multiphysics real-world applications is like no other subject!”
For instance, through this collaborative multi-disciplinary approach, Padhu was able to contribute to key questions about the rupture of intracranial saccular aneurysms (commonly known as brain clots) which cause between 2-5% of the deaths in the United States each year. “My key contributions to this medical condition include providing neurosurgeons with real-time mathematical modeling solutions to biological problems associated with this disorder.”
In addition to his laboratory research and teaching endeavors at George Mason University, Padhu also is proud that he is able to transfer his knowledge “back into the broader community –specifically to middle and high school classrooms.“ He does this by being actively involved with area school districts in developing new initiatives and programs that enhance the quality of teachers and introduce students to career options in science and engineering.
Padhu received his Bachelors of Science degree (with honors) in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and his Masters degree in Mathematics from Birla Institute of Technology & Science (Pilani, India). He then earned his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and then completed a Biomedical Engineering Program at Texas A&M University as a Post-doctoral Research Associate (“to understand how I could apply my mathematical and science skills to an area that was completely new to me”).
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