Sommer Gentry

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Sommer Elizabeth Gentry is an American mathematician who works as a professor of mathematics at the United States Naval Academy and as a research associate in surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her research concerns operations research and its applications to the optimization of organ transplants,[1] and has led to the discovery of geographic inequities in organ allocation.[2] She is also interested in dancing, teaches swing dancing at the Naval Academy,[3] and wrote her doctoral dissertation on the mathematics and robotics of dance.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Gentry is originally from California.[5] As a girl, she was inspired to continue in mathematics by the recreational mathematics columns of Martin Gardner and Ivars Peterson.[6] In 1993, as a senior at Thousand Oaks High School, Gentry had the highest individual score at the Ventura County, California county-level Academic Decathlon.[7] She graduated from Stanford University in 1998, with both a bachelor's degree in mathematical and computational sciences and a master's degree in engineering-economic systems and operations research.

She completed her Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005.[1] Her dissertation, Dancing cheek to cheek: haptic communication between partner dancers and swing as a finite state machine, was supervised by Eric Feron.[4] In her doctoral research, she modeled the language and notation of dance mathematically using finite state machines, programmed a robot to dance,[8] and used her model to improve haptic communications between humans and robots, with the goal of eventually producing human-machine surgical collaborations that could be more effective than human or robotic surgeons working alone.[9][10]

Other activities[edit]

Gentry is married to Israeli surgeon Dorry Segev. She met him at a Lindy Hop dance competition in 1999, and a few years later they won the British Championship in Lindy Hop. She has also worked with Segev on the Kidney Paired Donation program.[5]

In 2017, Gentry was a competitor on the Fox Television game show Superhuman.[11]

She has also been a vocal critic of the airport passenger screening procedures of the US Transportation Security Administration, which she characterizes as sexual assault.[12]


Gentry won the Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning Faculty Member of the Mathematical Association of America in 2009.[13] She won the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 2014,[1] and in the same year was a finalist for the INFORMS Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice.[14]


  1. ^ a b c Sommer Gentry, United States Naval Academy, retrieved 2019-08-27
  2. ^ Johns Hopkins Medicine (December 17, 2018), Study affirms geographic discrimination in allocating lungs for transplant – via Eurekalert
  3. ^ Pacella, Rachael (April 22, 2018), "Naval Academy professor teaches by doing in both dance, math", Washington Times
  4. ^ a b Sommer Gentry at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. ^ a b Mccauley, Mary Carole (November 14, 2012), "'Genius' pair rewrite rules of organ transplants, among other interests", Sun Magazine, Baltimore Sun
  6. ^ "An Interview with Sommer Gentry" (PDF), Girls' Angle Bulletin, 10 (3): 3, February–March 2017
  7. ^ Sommer, Constance (November 21, 1993), "Moorpark High Wins Academic Decathlon", Los Angeles Times
  8. ^ "MIT Student Dances With Robots", ScienceDaily, February 6, 2004
  9. ^ Mackenzie, Dana (December 26, 2004), "A Matter of Balance", Non-Trivial Pursuits, SIAM News
  10. ^ "Jiving With a Machine", Science, 303 (5664): 1609a, March 2004, doi:10.1126/science.303.5664.1609a
  11. ^ Britto, Brittany (July 18, 2017), "Canton resident, Naval Academy math professor to display puzzle-solving skills on Fox's 'Superhuman'", Baltimore Sun
  12. ^ Boyle, Tim (November 30, 2004), Women complain about airport patdowns: Intrusive searches by TSA employees described as humiliating, NBC News; Johnson, Keith (March 2, 2012), "More Women Speaking Out About Humiliating Experiences With TSA", American Free Press; Elliott, Christopher (July 28, 2014), "How the TSA beat fliers into submission", USA Today; Statement of Sommer Gentry to ASAC - Transportation Security
  13. ^ Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning Faculty Member, Mathematical Association of America, retrieved 2019-08-27
  14. ^ "Sommer Gentry", Recognizing Excellence, INFORMS, retrieved 2019-08-27

External links[edit]