Kathryn Montovan uses mathematical modeling and analysis to understand complex ecosystem interactions and to discover the potential evolutionary causes of insect and animal behaviors. Her teaching is based on active learning techniques and is focused on engaging students of all levels in authentic mathematical inquiry.
Montovan is an applied mathematician who uses modeling and analysis to better understand animal behavior, ecosystem interactions, and self-organization in biological systems. She is generally interested in determining what can cause the evolution of cooperative behaviors. Specifically, she has found simple rules for the behavior of individual honeybees that give rise to complex and important patterns at the level of the colony. She has also used mathematical models to test ecological hypotheses and to determine the evolutionary cause of decreased parasitism rates by a parasitic wasp.
Currently, she is studying the effectiveness of biological control mechanisms for Colorado potato beetles. She is also starting a project on coral reef ecology that considers what might be necessary to reintroduce sea urchin to Caribbean reefs and the potential impacts of reintroduction for reef ecosystems. Montovan is also committed to encouraging a diverse next generation of mathematicians and scientists and has developed outreach programs aimed at girls, women, underfunded rural schools, and underrepresented minority students. She has taught mathematics and outdoor education at Cornell University and won a Cornell teaching award for her mathematics teaching and outreach programs. BA, University of Minnesota, Morris; master’s degree and PhD, Cornell University. Montovan joined the Bennington faculty in fall 2013.