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New Film Spotlights Pomona Math Professor as Role Model for Women

Professor Ami Radunskaya in "The Empowerment Project"

Pomona College Professor of Mathematics Ami Radunskaya is featured in the recently-released independent film The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things, a documentary that aims to inspire girls by spotlighting positive and powerful women who are excelling in traditionally male-dominated fields. The women profiled in the film—who, in addition to mathematician Radunskaya, include a human-trafficking lawyer, a U.S. Navy admiral, an architect and a chef—discuss their definitions of success and offer advice on how to improve the roles of women in the workplace.

At Pomona for 20 years, Radunskaya is a co-director of EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education), a national program designed to increase the number of women students, particularly minority women, successfully completing graduate programs in the mathematical sciences. In 2012, she received the Wig Award, the College’s excellence in teaching award. In 2003, she was given the Irvine Foundation Award for Distinguished Faculty Mentor.

"We thought Ami was really unique, both in personality and in her teaching methods…talk about a role model...[she] stood for what we were looking for in the film, which is a woman helping other women achieve their dreams—especially in the math field where women are so underrepresented," says Dana Cook, the film’s co-producer.

When asked why she participated in the film, Radunskaya says, “I liked the idea of reaching out to young women and sending them the message: ‘Don’t be afraid to try.’ I personally know what it feels like for someone to say to you, ‘No, you can’t do x because you are a girl, too young, too old…and it makes me mad.”

Among Radunskaya’s areas of expertise are mathematical modeling of tumor growth and treatment, dynamical systems and analysis of non-linear models of power systems. She received her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. from Stanford University.

The film is an IndieFlix and Heartfelt Productions project, produced by Emmy Award-winners Sarah Moshman and Cook. Last fall, with an all-female film crew, Moshman and Cook embarked on a 30-day, 7,000-mile cross-country road trip to interview the featured women leaders. 

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