Dawn A. Lott
I, Dr. Dawn A. Lott, am the oldest of three children born to Robert and Carolyn Lott. My sisters, Sonya and Robin, are the wind beneath my wings. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a very close-knit nuclear family and lots of extended family. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Bucknell University in 1987, a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from Michigan State University in 1989 and a Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics from Northwestern University in 1994.
I remember my love of mathematics emerging in first grade when I was excited by math facts and bored with coloring. By seventh grade I knew that I would major in mathematics as a college student. What I did not know was there were so many areas of mathematics to study. I am an applied mathematician who uses mathematics to solve equations that model physical phenomena in the medical field. In particular, I study mathematical predictions for aneurysm prevention and treatment. My specialties are ordinary and partial differential equations and numerical analysis. Oddly, I also love some areas of core mathematics. I love linear and abstract algebra and real and complex analysis.
Since the age of 13, I have had to manage a chronic disease called Myasthenia Gravis (MG). MG is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles. It manifests in difficulty with breathing, droopy eyelids, double vision, trouble speaking and swallowing and weakness in the arms and legs. I had every symptom and the disease was so debilitating that I could not attend school in tenth grade. I developed a duodenal ulcer from the medication and I eventually became unable to walk without a walker. But God! I eventually regained most of my strength, returned to finish high school on time, and I started college on August 27, 1983 (my 18th birthday). Although I still have to manage the MG and now a new illness (Fibromyalgia), I have been able to achieve all of my goals to date.
I am most proud of my career in the mathematical sciences for having produced a doctoral student whose research is new and exciting. I am a full professor and I am now working with 3 other doctoral students, an accomplishment I never was interested in pursuing, but found me. I have never enjoyed the competition in the field but I enjoy discovery and solving mathematics problems. I love teaching students and helping them reach their goals.
In my personal life, my greatest accomplishment is giving birth to my two children, Samuel and Carilyn. Through academic challenges, physical challenges and other personal challenges, this body which sometimes does not do what I want it to allowed me to carry and nurture each child and brought forth these two who are such joy. Samuel means messenger of God and he truly embodies God’s message and Carilyn means “womanly,” a child who is named after the most beautiful and amazing woman I know, my mother. I am thankful that I have been able to raise my first born, a child with developmental disabilities, to become a functional man who contributes to society each day. I am able to watch my beautiful daughter blossom into a wonderful, polite teenager who is interested in mathematics, chemistry and music production.
In addition to my love of mathematics, my love of sewing also began in the seventh grade. I now own my own business “A Lott of Stitching.” I am married to my best friend from high school, Kenny, and each day consists of striving to be the best wife, mother and mathematician I can be.
My advice to my younger generation of scholars is to pursue your dreams earnestly and keep the faith. Many tried to discourage me and told me I would never earn a Ph.D.; however, I sought out the few that would support me and motivate me. Seek out advisors who are connected in the field and can help you find your place in academia. Keep company with positive people and those that are moving in the same direction you are traveling. Read and exergy journal papers until the content is clear and never throw away incorrect solutions to problems because there may be something of value in the work. Press toward your mark.
All things work together for good to them that love Him, to those who are the called, according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).