Professor Enjoys Finding Mathematical Solutions to Real-World Problems
Giovanna Guidoboni, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Mathematical Sciences, School of Science
The cross-disciplinary collaborations that happen everyday around the IUPUI campus create the perfect environment for researchers with diverse backgrounds like Giovanna Guidoboni, an associate professor of mathematics.
Showing an early interest in engineering and physics, the bulk of her work now is done in mathematical modeling for bio-medical applications. She works in applied mathematics—how complex mathematical formulas and models can solve real-world problems. Luckily, IUPUI is home to many scholars in science, engineering and medicine who value the insights that math modeling provides their discipline, and all are just a short walk from her office in the Department of Mathematical Science in the School of Science.
“I’m really excited about the possibilities here at IUPUI,” she said. “This university, and everything it has to offer, is really just right for me because I’m able to explore ideas I may not be able to do at other institutions.”
For example, her current research with the Department of Ophthalmology at the IU School of Medicine involves building a complex mathematical model to measure factors like blood flow, pressure and oxygen levels in the eye. When treating diseases such as glaucoma and diabetes, doctors often can’t accurately analyze the interaction of risk factors with current technology, but a modeling method could enhance results and allow for specific treatment methods based on individual patient characteristics.
“Math offers you the opportunity to create a sort of ‘virtual lab’ in which the behavior of a complex system can be simulated under a multitude of conditions at a relatively low cost,” Guidoboni said. “A first step toward addressing many issues in medicine, for example, could be to translate it into a mathematical problem you need to solve. You can continue to add data and feedback into the model and continue this cycle of improving results.”
Modeling can have significant applications in medical issues involving complex organs such as the brain, the heart and kidneys, allowing researchers to “apply the model to a problem and see the bottom line,” she said.
Guidoboni serves as co-director of the School of Science Institute for Mathematical Modeling and Computational Science (iM2CS), a cross-departmental research group devoted to integrating mathematical and computational approaches to address problems in science, engineering and medicine. The group was launched in January 2012.
She has been studying mathematical applications involving blood flow since 2004, when she was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Houston (Texas), where she collaborated with heart surgeons. Prior to then, she was a Marie Curie fellow at the University of Surrey in England. Her M.S. and Ph.D. were earned at the University of Ferrara in her homeland of Italy.
She came to Indianapolis in 2009. She has found that IUPUI and its relationship with nearby research and medical facilities makes “collaboration really easy because everyone is so open-minded.”
“I’ve found that your education and research here is what you make it,” she added. “If you have initiative and want to work in this environment, you’re really allowed to bloom. People truly value what you have to give.”