About the authors

John Roe   Born in England, I’ve been a professor in Penn State’s math department since 1998.  I am one of the inventors of the mathematical theory of “coarse geometry”, which uses geometric tools to study the “large scale aspects” of mathematical problems.   Though this is an abstract theory, there are natural connections between it and the study of human sustainability, which involves “large scale” questions both in space and time.  I have long felt a call to help teach about sustainability in a mathematical context and am enormously excited about this book. Outside the classroom I am a rock-climber, a guitarist, an enthusiastic but messy cook, and a blogger on topics related to faith, mathematics and the environment.  I am also a cancer survivor, and cancer has recently forced me to retire from active teaching. It will be a great gift if I see the fulfillment of a lifelong dream with the publication of Mathematics for Sustainability. Contact: john@math-for-sustainability.com

Russ deForest I grew up in western Massachusetts in a small industrial town where the main waterway had been contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) used in the production of electrical transformers.  For a time I imagined industrial pollution as a local problem but PCBs and other persistent organic pollutants are transported to the high Arctic where they accumulate in the fatty tissue of arctic animals and become part of the diet of Arctic peoples.  Although how this occurs is itself quite fascinating, it is yet another reminder of the adage of our time: ‘There is no away’.

I also take it as a reason for optimism. While PCBs will be remain with us for some time, they have not been manufactured since 1977 and are slowly declining in the environment.  We have found better and safer manufacturing methods. By taking a long view and turning our attention toward the issues of sustainability we may find that we can do much better still. To understand the scope of the challenges we face and the many opportunities for improving our relationship with the ecosystems on which we depend we need skills in quantitative reasoning. I hope this book will serve to help you in developing and strengthening those skills.  Contact: russ@math-for-sustainability.com

Sara Jamshidi   I obtained my math PhD at Penn State studying the algebraic properties of natural phenomena like evolution and quantum entanglement. I grew up in San Diego, CA—a city deeply concerned about water conservation and the preservation of natural habitats. Much of the city’s public discourse and K-12 curriculum included discussions about the ecological problems of the region and the ways residents can alter their behavior to help. As an adult, I lived in Los Angeles for 5 years. There, I saw the repercussions of prolonged unsustainable growth and its devastating impact on the environment and on the people who lived there, especially the poor and the homeless. I was deeply affected by that experience. Since then, I have continuously worked toward understanding the long-term sustainability of the social, political and economic choices we all make. Whenever I can, I make better choices and share what I know with those around me.  Contact: sara@math-for-sustainabililty.com