How to be a mathematical role model with Ivana from Mathematical Models

Hi all! These last days of February have had to do with modelling and sensing numbers more than I thought…since I’ve had to measure my body temperature a lot! I’ve been battling a flu and I had to take medicine for the fever. Then, the pills I take have an action of 8h and I have to wait this time until I take a new one so that I don’t overdose or surcharge my liver. How is this threshold determined? Due to mathematical modelling of the distribution of drugs in the body, both in space and time. So I thought, what better way to talk lightly about these concepts that we all have to battle with from time to time, to be able to introduce my next #STEMazing person here on the blog?

Ivana is the owner of Mathematical Models, a blog focused on women in maths. She created the #girlswhodomath movement to showcase the rare “M” in STEM and the even more rare women working in mathematics. This is also a way to show that mathematics has applications in every day live in contrast to the belief that many of us have during school and her story of resilience on the field is so inspiring. Her Instagram is full of beautiful pictures that show patterns involving mathematics in real life and you should definitely take a look. I recently became one of her Mathematical Models on the blog, talking about my experience on the field and why I ended up doing mathematical models for 6 years now after I graduated from my Masters. Please read my story here, but now the floor is yours Ivana!

1. Tell us about why you chose to study mathematics. Where did you study and what do you do now that you work full time?

When I was in high school, I found math extremely challenging. After failing math class, I decided to study really hard to make sure that never happened again. In doing so, I became fascinated with the beauty and intricacies of mathematics. I decided to pursue a major in mathematics at Villanova University, and now work at an education non-profit where I develop educational mathematics content.

2. How did your initial struggles with mathematics help you to become the passionate person for its usefulness and an advocate for girls in mathematics?

Having struggled with math when I was younger, I can completely relate to students (especially female students) who find math challenging. These challenges can bring down your self- confidence in your mathematical abilities, and may often lead to a hatred for the subject. I’d like to be the voice of someone who pushed through those feelings of self-doubt, and ultimately found my passion for math. I want to let people, especially girls, know that they can overcome those struggles too…and if they do, they may learn to love math as well! Given the current gender gap in STEM fields, I think the world needs more women advocating for these subjects, and social media is a great way to do that.

3. For how long have you had Mathematical Models? What inspired you to create the blog?

I decided to create the blog because I was inspired by a lot of the amazing Instagram accounts and blogs that advocate for #womeninSTEM. I was finding accounts from impressive women who were biologists, chemists, coders, engineers, physicists, environmentalists, astronomers, and researchers in tons of different fields. But I always thought to myself, “Where is the M in STEM?” and “How come it’s so hard to find math accounts on Instagram?” Then it came to me: the M is buried within each and every one of these fields. All of these women are doing amazing things with math in their work! So I decided to start my blog, “Mathematical Models”, which feature women in STEM and ask. “How do you use math in your work or field of research?” I’ve gotten responses from women in astrophysics, oceanography, civil engineering, biomedical engineering, physics, computer science, and more! I love the variety of fields that can be showcased with this simple question. It totally debunks the myth that math is irrelevant or never used in real life!

4. How do you manage to organize your work schedule and put blogging and social media time on top of it?

Honestly, I don’t put too much time into social media or my blog :). My full-time job requires a lot of time and attention, and I make sure that on my free time, I take care of myself as well as my interpersonal relationships. My Instagram account is mainly used to “capture the beauty of mathematics in the real world”, which means that if I come across something “mathematical” in my everyday life, I’ll post about it real quickly (this is usually done on my subway commute to/from work haha!). My blog is pretty easy to manage because I let my guest features take on 100% of the authoring. I like to let them write the post however they like because each feature is unique, and each author has a different message to give (plus, I let the experts do the talking about their work or studies…I don’t know nearly enough to write a post that correctly explains what they do!). It’s a win-win because the blog posts come out fantastic, and it’s a lot less work for me to manage 🙂

5. Work/life balance is an often overlooked subject. How do you manage to create a balance in your life?

Work is definitely one of the top priorities in my life and luckily, I don’t mind it because I really like my job! While I am diligent about getting my work done and doing the best job I can, I still make sure I have time for myself and my interpersonal relationships. I like going out with friends (partying!), spending time with family, maintaining a healthy relationship, working out, pampering myself, shopping, exploring New York City, traveling, and sometimes just vegging out at home :). I am also working on a special side project that I hope to announce soon!

6. Have you been traveling often? Where did you travel for school/work?

In January, I traveled to San Diego for work meetings and the Joint Mathematics Meeting (the world’s largest mathematics conference!). Right after that, I visited some friends in San Francisco for a nice relaxing trip. More recently, I went to Miami with a group of my best friends for a bachelorette party! Haha, these 3 trips kind of summarize how I maintain a work/life balance 🙂

7. I noticed your alma mater, Villanova University, is located in Philadelphia. I went to Philadelphia in the beginning of February and now I want to give the readers the chance to appreciate your local insights on the city that you gave me! 🙂

Reading Terminal Market is a must for eating, in particular Beiler’s Donuts. There are a lot of cool brunches, like Café La Maude, Sabrina’s, Green Eggs Café (my fave) and Mission Taqueria. Fishtown has great bars, such as Barcade (bar arcade) and a beer garden (Frankford Hall).

Penn’s Landing has cool events depending on the season. In the Winter, they have an outdoor beer garden, food stands and ice skating. The Olde City (historic part) offers tours of Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House, Independence Visitor Centre, etc. One of the best ice creams is Franklin Fountain and a great place for hot chocolate is Shane Confectionary. And of course, plenty of good museums!

Reading Terminal Market. Photo taken by me in Philadelphia, early February 2018

8. What opportunities did the blog create for you?

Through my Instagram account, I’ve been able to connect with so many boss women! These ladies share similar passions for the advocacy of women in STEM, and truly inspire me on the daily! Through one of these connections, I’ve been able to become a part of something that I’m really excited about sharing soon! It has to do with 4 of my favorite things: fashion, STEM, education, and girl power. Keep your eyes peeled!

9. You developed this awesome social media movement, #girlswhodomath. What is your hope for the growth of this project? Do you feel it is changing the perception of young girls and making mathematics a cooler subject?

My hopes are that it can inspire girls to pursue something they might be afraid of, encourage girls that they can overcome those feelings of self-doubt, break outdated stereotypes, create exposure to real-life role models, show people how useful and versatile mathematics is in the workforce, and mainly to show everyone (regardless of gender or profession) that math is all around us — and that it’s beautiful, relevant, and interesting!

10. It was awesome interviewing you! Where can we follow you?

I mainly post on Instagram @mathematicalmodels, and post the features on women in STEM on my blog If you’d like to chat, find me on twitter @mathymodels or email me at

Thank you so much Ivana for the interview and showing us that mathematics is fun, stylish and easy to understand with the right approaches. If you are a fellow girl or woman with projects involving mathematics, just e-mail her to tell your story and contribute to the project. In the meantime, check out the other models. And it’s a shame I couldn’t try all the Philly tips but in case I ever return I’ll keep those in mind first of all 🙂

Stay tuned for another interview tomorrow! This is a special month where I interviewed two awesome social media STEM contributors. Tomorrow’s post will be related to part time PhDs, a topic that raises a lot of curiosity!



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