Dr. Lora Billings

Mathematical Sciences

I’m Lora Billings, Mathematical Sciences professor.

I’ve been teaching at Montclair State since 2001 and love its thriving academic environment that offers students abundant opportunities both in and out of the classroom. I especially enjoy teaching small classes where I can really get to know a diverse group of students who have a lot of interesting ideas and enthusiasms.

My Transitions to Advanced Math course focuses on problem-solving and communication skills by showing undergraduates how to use technology to apply their formal calculus training to real world probability situations – even ones as simple as mortgages or the lottery. I’m also teaching an upper level Differential Equations course that’s focused on the mathematical models – or building blocks -- used in different scientific disciplines to predict solutions to everything from the weather to stock market performance.

My own field is Applied Mathematics. I create mathematical models that describe real world situations, predict what happens when parameters change over time, and control outcomes. For example, my work in Mathematical Epidemiology can help predict outbreaks of diseases. These predictions can alert health workers to get ready to control the infections. Since eradication or extinction of a disease is the ultimate goal, this information is critical in developing vaccination strategies.

In August, my department colleague Eric Forgoston and I were awarded a three-year, $278,966 National Science Foundation grant that supports our project, “Understanding the Dynamics of Stochastic Disease Spread in Metapopulations.”  We’re looking to determine the conditions that promote the outbreak, spread, and eventual extinction of disease in randomly connected population networks. We hope to develop innovative ways of analyzing new complex mathematical models – so that scientists wills be able to predict, control and develop strategies to eradicate specific disease.

Montclair State students will be involved in this project, as our grant funds a research group that includes two undergraduate students, one masters’ degree student, and one doctoral candidate.

Our collaborative efforts impact our lives. We supply the innovative mathematical models that will be useful tools for other scientific researchers and engineers who are looking for solutions that will make a positive difference.