American Physical Society

Anne Catlla - Postdoctoral Associate

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Job Info

Duke Univeristy

Position Type:

Job skills:
Complex problem solving
Synthesizing information
Mathematical skills
Lab or instrumentation skills
Knowledge of physics principles
Data analysis

Anne Catlla's Job:
Although Catlla's primary field is applied mathematics,  her current work is within neuroscience. Within the brain there are different kinds of cells,  one of which is the Gilal. The Gilal is attached to neurons,  and can transmit chemical signals. Up until recently,  it was thought that these cells served in a support capacity,  but Catlla's team is investigating the possibility that it they have other functions. A physicist on the team collects the data,  and it is up to Catlla to figure out how to process the information,  and then designs computer simulations to analyze the data.

My Previous Jobs:
In the past,  Catlla has worked with Faraday waves,  which are created when liquid is moved in a vertical fashion. Depending on how the liquid is moved,  patterns start to emerge,  "You can get some pretty elaborate patterns, " says Catlla

Career Facts

Employer Type:

Current Location:
Durham, NC

Physics Degree:

Educational Information

Undergraduate Degree in Math at the University Of Kansas
Masters Degree in Math from the University of Kansas
Ph.D. in Math from Northwestern University

More about Anne Catlla

Anne Catlla's other interests:
Anne Catlla is interested in politcs and yoga. She is also an active volunteer within the community.

Direct link to Anne Catlla's profile:

Anne Catlla


Anne Catlla's career in applied mathematics was a kind of fluke. When she started her undergraduate at the University of Kansas,  she started in engineering,  but after deciding it was not for her,  she moved to the education department. That too proved to be not a good fit,  and she declared a math major,  because she already had taken several math classes that she enjoyed.

When a physics professor asked her to stay and do research for him,  she agreed and enrolled in the masters program in math at the University of Kansas. She was attracted to applied mathematics because of its inclusive nature. "I think that mathematicians and physicists and applied mathematicians all will look at the same phenomena and ask different questions. The questions that a mathematician asks will be perhaps more abstract. The questions a physicist asks tend to be more interested in what was coming out of the system. I was interested in the math,  but I was also interested in the system. That drew me to applied math,  because I felt at the time like this was bridging the gap, "

After earning that degree she went on to Northwestern to earn her Ph.D.

Women are still a rare sight within math and physics departments. Although Catlla says she never faced explicit discrimination,  she did notice some minor things. "It's so much more subtle. It has to do with feeling very singled out. There were math and physics courses I took where I was the only woman. You might have a question,  and you're sitting there,  thinking to yourself,  "is this a stupid question?" And then,  if I ask the stupid question,  I'm not just the person who asked the stupid question,  I'm the woman who asked the stupid question. And so I think that that kind of pressure,  I've definitely felt many times."