Graduate School

Renowned mathematician, author and speaker to deliver 3MT keynote; event is open to all


Talithia Williams, a groundbreaking professor, popular TED speaker, inspiring author and passionate STEM/STEAM advocate, is a nationally renowned expert at demystifying and effectively communicating technical and scientific topics. She will share her expertise in the inaugural keynote address of Clemson’s 3-Minute Thesis® competition on November 19 at 9:00 a.m. in the Watt Center auditorium (see related article for full schedule and more information). The event is open to the campus community, who can attend in person at the Watt Center auditorium or online at

Applying the data-driven approach made famous in her TED talk to a range of subjects, she takes sophisticated numerical concepts and makes them understandable to a wide audience, debunking perceptions with an energizing call to “show me the data!” She also passionately champions the contributions of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians and their vital role in transforming our future.

Her latest book, Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics, reflects Williams’ passion to re-brand the field of mathematics as anything but dry, technical or male-dominated.

Williams is Associate Dean for Research and Experiential Learning and Associate Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. She develops statistical models that emphasize the spatial and temporal structure of data and applies the data to real-world problems. Focused on data analytics, mathematics, statistical modeling and STEM Outreach, she is the first African-American woman to achieve tenure at the college.

She has hosted NOVA Wonders, a PBS mini-series that explores the biggest questions on the frontiers of science. The Los Angeles Times praised the show for sending the message “that scientists come in a range of ages, genders, colors and hairstyles.” She also appeared in NOVA’s Prediction by the Numbers, a series exploring the history of probabilities and gambling that Forbes called “an entertaining, fun piece that conveys her knowledgeable and deep interest in this predictive method.”

In addition to her teaching and television work, she has partnered with the World Health Organization in developing a cataract model used to predict the cataract surgical rate for countries in Africa. Her professional experiences include research appointments at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and the National Security Agency.

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