Cristina Villalobos, a professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, will deliver the keynote address during the Marjorie Lee Browne Colloquium. The talk, which is sponsored by the Department of Mathematics, LSA, is set for 4 p.m. Jan. 18 at 1360 East Hall.

Villalobos’ lecture is titled “Becoming Agents of Change: Building Diverse Communities and Lessons Learned from the Mathematical Modeling of Eye Disease.” The mathematical modeling of the photoreceptor interactions in the presence of retinitis pigmentosa will be presented and discussed in this talk.

Cristina Villalobos

Retinitis pigmentosa is an eye-disease that affects approximately one in 4,000 individuals and can lead to blindness. Currently, there is no treatment to halt the degeneration of the photoreceptors. However, the discovery of the RdCVF protein has shed light to possible therapies to slow the degeneration.

Existence of an optimal control along with numerical results will be presented that show the experimentally observed rescue effect that RdCVF has on the cones.

Based on some of the lessons learned from the mathematical model, Villalobos will transition and discuss her invitation to students and faculty to become agents of change in their own communities.

With that purpose in mind, she will share her own career path to her present position and her efforts in “becoming an agent of change” in mentoring faculty and students which has led to the creation of a Center of Excellence in STEM Education that has allowed her to inspire and to help Latino students to enroll and obtain Ph.D. degrees.