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Mathematician and STEM Advocate Talithia Williams to Speak at OU

Mathematician and STEM Advocate Talithia Williams to Speak at OU

February 12, 2020

Talithia Williams, a renowned statistician, TED speaker and television host, will speak at a Presidential Speakers Series dinner at the University of Oklahoma, set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, in Oklahoma Memorial Union, 900 Asp Ave., on the OU Norman campus.

Williams has made it her life’s work to excite people of all ages and backgrounds about the bold possibilities of a STEM education and to “STEMpower” women and minorities to enter STEM professions. In her talk at OU, Williams will share inspiring stories of trailblazing women who fought through the obstacles, shattered stereotypes and embraced their STEM passions in her talk, “Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics.” 

“Talithia Williams is known for her spirited enthusiasm for STEM education and for empowering her audiences to follow their passions, no matter their chosen area of expertise,” said OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Her remarkable gift of simplifying our understanding of big data and its endless possibilities is especially timely for us, as the University works to craft solutions to some of the world’s grand challenges through data-driven approaches.”

An expert in data analytics, Williams is known for taking advanced numerical concepts and simplifying them for broad audiences in amusing and insightful ways – a skill that has contributed to her popularity as a TED speaker. As associate dean for research and experiential learning and associate professor of mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, she develops statistical models that emphasize the spatial and temporal structure of data and applies them to real-world problems. 

Williams also enthusiastically champions the contributions of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians and their vital role in transforming our future. She is the host of NOVA Wonders, a PBS mini-series that explores the biggest questions on the frontiers of science. The Los Angeles Times praised the show for sending the message “that scientists come in a range of ages, genders, colors and hairstyles.” 

Her latest book, Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics, reflects her dedication to rebranding the field of mathematics as anything but dry, technical or male-dominated.

She has received numerous honors as an educator, including the Mathematical Association of America’s Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Spelman College, a master’s degree in mathematics from Howard University and a doctoral degree in statistics from Rice University.

Limited seating is available by reservation for OU students, faculty, staff and alumni with overflow seating available to the public. For reservations, more information and accommodations, email or call (405) 325-1701.

During Williams’ visit to OU, she also will serve as the keynote speaker for the Humphreys Distinguished Education Lecture Series, hosted by the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education. The annual event, funded by an endowment from Cathey and Don Humphreys, brings speakers to campus that focus on education-specific topics.

About the University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit