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Author: Milton Magazine

Math is the ‘Most Interesting Subject in the Whole World,’ Omayra Ortega ’96 Tells Students

Students in the GAINS (Girls Advancing in STEM) Club welcomed OMAYRA ORTEGA ’96 for a virtual visit, during which she discussed her work in statistics and mathematical epidemiology and what led to her career as a college math professor. Ortega’s route to applied mathematics and epidemiological research was “nonlinear,” she told the students. Now an assistant professor at Sonoma State College, where she teaches statistics, Ortega majored in math and music at Pomona College. A bad experience in a general chemistry class made her rethink the idea of a pre- med track. “I wasn’t focused on science, specifically,” she said. “I was a pure mathematician; I was interested in theory. Math was this complex, intricate game, and I wanted to play…. Math is the most interesting subject in the whole world. It’s just puzzles all day.” Studying math at a high level does not just prepare theoreticians; it opens a world of possibility for different careers, Ortega learned. It wasn’t until she participated in a summer research experiment at Cornell’s Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute that she realized she could combine her love of math with science without becoming a medical practitioner. Mathematical models could help in the development of medical treatments, predicting the spread of infectious disease and much more. “I realized I could still be a healer,” Ortega said. “I could still work in medicine, through mathematical epidemiology and...

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Farming a Family Legacy

THROUGH PERSISTENCE AND A LOT OF HARD WORK, SMALL-SCALE FARMERS CLARA COLEMAN ’94, IN RURAL MAINE, AND MOTHER AND SON JANE (LYMAN) BIHLDORFF ’65 AND DAVE BIHLDORFF ’97, IN CANTON, MASSACHUSETTS, ARE FINDING WAYS TO CARRY ON A FAMILY TRADITION. Winter in Maine is just wrapping up in April, and the land is muddy and barren. But step inside one of the greenhouses at the Four Season Farm, in the village of Harborside, and you are surrounded by rows of bursting green leaves. CLARA COLEMAN ’94 pulls a beautiful bunch of carrots out of the soil, washes them, and hands one to her...

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Yes, Chef!

THREE CHEFS TOOK VERY DIFFERENT PATHS TO RUNNING A KITCHEN, BUT ALL HAVE A LOVE FOR THE PROFESSION As far back as he can recall, DAVID TURIN ’76 (photo above) loved reading about the lives of chefs—how they would spend their days at outdoor mar- kets carefully choosing the freshest produce for the dishes they would prepare later that evening. “I remember reading about a chef who spent his afternoon riding his bicycle up into the Pyrenees on his way to his restaurant,” Turin says. “I’d read these life stories about chefs, and I knew it was for me.” Today, Turin owns...

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“ We Don’t Just Grow Food. We Grow People.”

PATRICIA SPENCE ’76, FOUNDING PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE URBAN FARMING INSTITUTE, BELIEVES THAT THE ALMOST DECADE-OLD ENTERPRISE IS HELPING CHANGE LIVES THROUGH FOOD. On Norfolk Street, just a block from Blue Hill Avenue in the heart of Mattapan, sits the head- quarters of the Urban Farming Institute (UFI), an almost decade-old enterprise operating five farms in neighborhoods just south of Boston. Its mission: to develop and promote urban agriculture, engage residents of Mattapan, Dorchester, and Rox- bury in growing food, and build a healthier community. The person overseeing this ambitious undertaking is PATRICIA SPENCE ’76, UFI’s founding president and CEO. Spence...

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