Fern Y. Hunt

Born: ? place: New York, New York
A.B. in Mathematics from Bryn Mawr College; M.S. from New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematics
Ph.D (1978) Courant Institute of Mathematics
thesis: Genetic and Spatial Variation in some Selection-Migration Models; Advisor: Frank Hoppensteadt
Computing & Applied Mathematics Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology
URL: http://math.nist.gov/mcsd/Staff/FHunt/index.html
email: hunt@cam.nist.gov or fern.hunt@nist.gov
Fern Hunt was born to Daphne Lindsay and Thomas Edward Hunt. Neither of her parents were mathematically inclined. She has one sister, Erica Hunt, who is a published poet and writer. Her grandparents immigrated to the United States from Jamaica prior to World War I. Essentially Jamaica at that time was a British colony that was stratified by color, and so they came to the States looking for more opportunities. At this time there was a large West Indian migration into the city.
Her father did not finish high school, but her mom did attend Hunter College for two years, and then she could no longer afford the costs of higher education. Her mom encouraged Hunt to attend college, and as a result she entered Bryn Mawr College. Afterwards she entered New York University's Courant Institute. While at the Institute she held a fellowship that paid for her tuition and provided her with a small stipend.  However, she lost her fellowship after receiving a B on her qualifying examination.  She then started to work, teaching part-time at the City College of New York.  She also was the recipient of a Martin Luther King Scholarship and this helped her to help pay for tuition.  She received both her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Courant Institute. 

After finishing her dissertation she took at job at the University of Utah. Dr. Fern Hunt joined the Mathematics Department of Howard University in 1978 as an Assistant Professor. She remained a member of the department until 1993. From 1981-1982 She worked for the National Institute of Health, in the Laboratory of Mathematical Biology. From 1986 until 1991 she worked for the National Bureau of Standards. She was also a member of the GRE Mathematics Advisory Board, Educational Testing Service in Princeton 1988-1991. Presently she is Research Mathematician with the Mathematical Modeling Group of the Applied and Computational Mathematics Division of the Computing and Applied Mathematics Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She serves on the Board of Trustees for Bryn Mawr College and the Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee, for the Department of Energy.

In addition, Dr. Hunt as served as Consultant and Analysis Instructor for EDGE (Enhancement of Diversity in Graduate Eduation) Program 1998; Board of Trustees Bryn Mawr College 1992- present; Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee, Dept. of Energy 1994-present; American Mathematical Society Committee on Education 1989-1992; Conference Board for Mathematical Sciences (reivewer) 1992-1995.


In 2000, Fern Hunt was awarded the prestigious Arthur S. Flemming Award for Outstanding Federal Service. It is given every year to 12 federal employees and 3 of them are in the scientific category. Here is the announcement:

Fern Hunt Receives Arthur S. Flemming Award in 2000

Fern Y. Hunt of the ITL Mathematical and Computational Sciences Division has received the prestigious Arthur S. Fleming Award. Hunt was recognized for a sustained record of fundamental contributions to probability and stochastic modeling, mathematical biology, computational geometry, nonlinear dynamics, computer graphics, and parallel computing. Hunt was also cited for the impact of her work in her extensive close collaborations with scientists and engineers seeking to apply these developments to diverse problems of scientific and technological interest. Examples include flow in complex geometries, modeling of micromagnetic devices, study of optical reflection, image rendering in computer graphics, and visualization of genetic sequences. Hunt's was also cited for her outstanding dedication to the mathematics profession. She has been a mentor and leading proponent of careers in mathematics for students at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels, especially for women and minorities.

Established by the Downtown Jaycees in 1948, the Flemming Awards honor outstanding federal employees. More than 500 individuals have received the award to date. Nominees include any career federal employee with no more than fifteen years of government service. Twelve separate awards will be made in three categories - scientific, administrative, and applied science. The program is sponsored by George Washington University and Government Executive Magazine.

Hunt received the award on June 8, 2000 at the 51st annual Flemming Awards ceremony and banquet which was held at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.  


RESEARCH NOTES (Selected Publications here)

Dr. Hunt began her career by applying differential equations to population genetics, and, as some jobs prevent her from engaging in personal research, she has published, at present, 20 papers (see Hunt - page2). Her research interests include dynamical systems and applied probability. In particular she had been looking at Monte Carlo methods for solutions of partial differential equations (see page2). She has been looking at modeling with magnetic materials, and at Stochastic Geometry problems. She has previously been involved with biomathematics, in particular, patterns in Gram Negative bacteria and genetic variation. She also has an interest in chaos theory. Recently for example, Fern worked on a mathematical model of the Barkhausen Effect - a technique used to characterize the ferromagnetic materials used in disk drives and ATM cards - after hearing about it for the first time a month earlier. Reworking an earlier model developed by Robert McMichaels, the physicist she worked with on the project, she used existing mathematics, in this case the theory of reversible Markov Chains, to explain some experimental and numerical observations that were not captured by an earlier model. As a mathematician in a scientific but nonacademic environment means frequent collaborations with non-mathematicians and the lack of rigid departmental lines, which can ease collaboration. The research however is more directed than it would be in academia. She uses both computer models and analytical methods in her work.

On page2, two "attractively visible" Works of Dr. Hunt are exhibited. In addition we have listed all of her research articles until 2001. Other web pages about Fern Hunt: AMS-Careers;

References: [Kenschaft, Black Women in Mathematics in the United States]; [Kenschaft, Black Men and Women in Mathematical Research] ; [ams careers] ; [nist-monte carlo] ; [nist 96]

SUMMA Fern Hunt web page: http://www.maa.org/summa/archive/hunt.html


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