Lisette de Pillis, believes that to succeed in interdisciplinary work, it is essential to cooperate across disciplinary boundaries. So, she collaborates with colleagues who work in academia, medicine and biotechnology to create mathematical models to gain insight into immune-related diseases, such as type I diabetes and certain forms of cancer. The Norman F. Sprague Jr. Professor of Life Sciences, professor of mathematics and department chair at Harvey Mudd College is passionate about using mathematics to seek solutions to real-world problems, like ways to treat cancer patients and those infected with HIV.
De Pillis shares more about her life and work—including who and what has inspired her, what it was like living in Norway and how negative feedback led to something positive—on the Feb. 4 People Behind the Science Podcast, a series exploring the lives and experiences of the people behind the research and scientific discoveries of today.
De Pillis has conducted research in a broad range of application areas, from modeling cancer tumor growth and treatment protocols to analyzing atmospheric pressure waves generated by storms. De Pillis employs sophisticated computational techniques to find solutions to otherwise intractable problems. She has served as principle investigator on a number of externally funded research projects and is currently collaborating with HMC Professor Tanja Srebotnjak to direct an NSF funded REU program in Data Science at HMC.
De Pillis also has an interest in parallel computing. She supervised the development and construction of the first on-site 16-node Beowulf parallel computer ever made available to undergraduate students in the United States. She has published several articles in the areas of theoretical and computational fluid dynamics, computational linear algebra, dynamics of periodic structures in engineering applications, parallel algorithms applications and mathematical biology.
De Pillis served as director of the Harvey Mudd College Global Clinic Program from 2009–2014, prior to being elected department chair.