Michaela Fitzgerald, Graduate Student

Michaela is a first-year graduate student at the University of Rochester. She is from Stoughton, Massachusetts, and earned two bachelor’s degrees at Stonehill College. The two degrees are a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. At Stonehill, she was invited to apply to the Stonehill Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) which took place in the summer of 2021, where she investigated graph theoretical applications to DNA Self-assembly. She continued this research two years later at Summer@ICERM 2023 (Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics) acting as a mentor to undergraduate students beginning their research careers. In addition to her research at Stonehill, Michaela was accepted to an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at Pomona College called PRiME (Pomona Research in Mathematical Experience), where she was introduced to research in arithmetic dynamics investigating arboreal Galois representations over finite fields. In the future, she hopes to continue learning about arithmetic dynamics and produce more research within this area of study. While Michaela enjoys mathematics, she has hobbies to have a healthy work-life balance which includes playing the piano, reading books, and shopping. Additionally, she likes to spend time with her dog Boo, when she visits her home in Massachusetts.

Sefika Kuzgun, Postdoc

Sefika, originally from Turkey is a mathematician who completed her PhD studies at University of Kansas. She is interested in interactions between stochastic analysis and stochastic partial differential equations. She is currently a visiting assistant professor at University of Rochester.

Sefika actively contributes to the initiatives in promoting diversity and equal opportunity in STEM fields, in particular in mathematics. In addition to professional life, she likes exploring new places, losing herself in a good book, and finds joy in leisurely walks and in the mindfulness of Yoga.

Zhihe Li, Graduate Student

Zhihe Li is from China. Her interests currently lie in the area of complex analysis and differential topology. Zhihe completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, and her senior project was on fractals. When not doing math, Zhihe can usually be found watching anime, drawing comics, or playing video games.

Vanessa Matus de la Parra, Graduate Student

Vanessa is Chilean, and did her Bachelors at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. Vanessa fell in love with dynamical systems early on, and did her undergraduate thesis on the mixing of Geodesic Flow on certain surfaces. As a graduate student, she started working on one-dimensional complex dynamics and ergodic theory. More specifically, she works on Dynamics of Holomorphic Correspondences. Vanessa is married and has both a pet dog and a Service Dog, and enjoys hiking and camping with them.

Sema Salur, Professor

Sema Salur is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Rochester. She received her bachelor’s degree from Bogazici University and her PhD from Michigan State University. Before joining the University of Rochester in 2006, she spent time as a visiting assistant professor at both Cornell University and Northwestern University. She has been a research fellow at Princeton University, the Mathematical Science Research Institute (MSRI) and the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM). She was awarded the Ruth I. Michler Memorial Prize for 2014–2015, a prize intended to give a recently promoted associate professor a year-long fellowship at Cornell University; and has been the recipient of a National Science Foundation Research Award beginning in 2017. She specializes in the “geometry and topology of the moduli spaces of calibrated submanifolds inside Calabi–Yau, G2 and Spin(7) manifolds”, which are important to certain aspects of string theory and M-theory in physics, theories that attempt to unite gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces into one coherent Theory of Everything.

Ke (Ella) Yu, Graduate Student

Ke Yu is from China, and goes by Ella. She is interested in additive combinatorics, and is currently exploring signal recovery and restriction theory. Before moving to Rochester, Ella did her undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh, and then completed her master’s degree at Imperial College London where she did her thesis on formalizing additive combinatorial theorems using LEAN. Apart from math, she enjoys cooking, music and going to shows.