New York City
Fern Hunt (born 1948) is an American mathematician known for her work in applied mathematics and mathematical biology.
Early life and education
Fern Hunt was born in New York City in 1948 to Daphne Lindsay and Thomas Edward Hunt. Her grandparents had emigrated to the United States from Jamaica before World War I, hoping to find greater opportunities in New York. The family lived in a primarily black housing project in Manhattan. Hunt is the sister of poet and writer, Erica Hunt. Though her mother had attended Hunter College for two years, no one in the family had earned a college degree. As a young girl Hunt showed an interest in science, experimenting with chemistry sets and mail-order electrical kits. A high school teacher, Charles Wilson, encouraged Hunt to pursue science and mathematics. She attended Bryn Mawr College, earning her A.B. degree in 1969. She went on to earn a masters and Ph.D. in mathematics from the Courant Institute of Mathematics at New York University.
After briefly teaching at the University of Utah, Hunt became an assistant professor of mathematics at Howard University. While teaching at Howard, she also conducted research, working for the National Institutes of Health in the Laboratory of Mathematical Biology from 1981 to 1982, and the National Bureau of Standards from 1986 to 1991. In 1993, she began working for the National Institute of Standards and Technology where she worked on mathematical problems from physics and chemistry research. While working at NIST she continued her own research on the ergodic theory of dynamical systems.
Fern also lectures at colleges and universities in order to encourage students in mathematics. She uses her experiences of the set backs she experienced as a black woman in mathematics to mentor minority students interested in mathematics. In 1998 she was an instructor for a summer workshop for women entering PhD programs in mathematics, called EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education).
Awards and Achievements
In 2000, Hunt received the Arthur S. Flemming Award for her contributions to probability and stochastic modeling, mathematical biology, computational geometry, nonlinear dynamics, computer graphics, and parallel computing. From 1988 to 1991, she was a member of the Graduate Record Examination Mathematics Advisory Board. She has been a member of the Bryn Mawr College board of trustees since 1992 and the Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee for the Department of Energy since 1994.