College of Science; Graduate School

Mathematician Keisha Cook receives MSEC Early Career Fellowship


Clemson University mathematician Keisha Cook is a member of the inaugural class of MGB-SIAM Early Career (MSEC) Fellows.

The MSEC Fellowship, awarded by Mathematically Gifted & Black and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, recognizes the achievements of early career applied mathematicians — especially those belonging to racial and ethnic groups historically excluded from the mathematical sciences in the United States — and provides professional activities and career development. SIAM and MGB selected recipients based on their achievements; support of diversity, equity and inclusion in their community; and commitment to industrial and applied mathematics, computational science and data science.

Cook is an assistant professor in the College of Science’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

“This opportunity will allow me to become more involved in the community of industrial and applied mathematics and build a larger community of Black researchers within SIAM,” Cook said. “Black mathematicians are still a minority today. Even at large conferences, I’m usually the only Black person in the applied mathematics sessions. Being a part of this cohort allows me to get to know other Black applied mathematicians and develop relationships, not only colleague-wise but collaborator-wise as well.”

Combining math and biology

Keisha Cook

Cook’s research encompasses applied mathematics and computational biology, specifically stochastic processes, probability and mathematical modeling. On the biology side, she studies the transport of organelles in live cells. Mathematically, she uses simulations and statistical analysis to understand the underlying properties that influence their transport.

As an MSEC Fellow, Cook hopes to expand her research program by collaborating with researchers in data science to improve current single particle tracking methods and incorporate machine learning. She also wants to work with industrial and applied mathematicians to expand single particle tracking to systems at larger scales and standardize methods for use across disciplines.

“Being so deep in the mathematical biology community, it can become very niche,” she said. “I want to remain a part of that niche, but I want to explore how what I’ve developed can be useful for other research areas. That will expand my research program at Clemson.”

Cook is passionate about increasing the number of women and underrepresented students in STEM.

Inspire future mathematicians

“Students succeed and become inspired to pursue certain careers when they see and can learn from those in the field that look like themselves,” she said. “It’s vitally important to me to be a part of expanding and increasing diversity in mathematics, specifically applied mathematics.” 

SMSS is fortunate to have Cook on its faculty because she contributes to the School’s mission in so many ways,  said Director Kevin James.

“Her research in probability and math biology is exciting, and her contributions to diversity are invaluable. She already includes a diverse group of students in her research program. The MSEC Fellowship is a fantastic honor and a great opportunity for Dr. Cook. It will allow her to extend her already sizeable network of collaborators and to grow her research program in new directions through ideas shared with others in her cohort,” he said. “SMSS is very proud of Dr. Cook’s accomplishments and eagerly awaits the next steps in her career.”

The College of Science pursues excellence in scientific discovery, learning, and engagement that is both locally relevant and globally impactful. The life, physical and mathematical sciences converge to tackle some of tomorrow’s scientific challenges, and our faculty are preparing the next generation of leading scientists. The College of Science offers high-impact transformational experiences such as research, internships and study abroad to help prepare our graduates for top industries, graduate programs and health professions.

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