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Our Newest Redbirds: Math Major Crunches Numbers to Make an Environmental Impact

Problems facing the environment and health care can be solved with math, according to incoming freshman Lani Kiene. A data science and computational mathematics major, Kiene plans to harness the power of numbers to make an impact on societal issues.

Kiene graduated from Schaumburg High School last spring and credits her calculus teacher, Frank Salatino ’00, for inspiring her to pursue a mathematical major.

“I actually used to really hate math, but now I like math,” Kiene said. “I took calculus my junior year, and I had a really awesome teacher. He helped me think about math and studying math a different way. My attitude just kind of shifted, and it felt more like puzzle solving.”

Redbirds studying data science and computational mathematics gain an interdisciplinary understanding of mathematics, statistics, data structure, and programming. Data science ranked third in U.S. News’ Best Technology Jobs in 2022, boasting high salaries and low unemployment rates.

Kiene said the data science field is “really interesting.”

 “We have so much information that we’ve gained digitally and don’t know what to do with,” she said. “So, I think the amount of opportunities there and knowledge that we could get from that is really, really cool.”

It was Kiene’s dad who encouraged her to visit Illinois State University. Kiene’s initial interest in Illinois State was because of its affordability. Once she visited campus for an Open House, her perspective broadened.

“I just got the feeling that I’d be okay. That’s the best way I can describe it. Which to me, I thought that was really important because I had another school or two that I was like, this could be really good,” Kiene said. “But it felt like those could be risky for a few different reasons, like location, price, the majors. Illinois State just seemed like the safest choice for me. “

While data scientists are needed in dozens of fields, Kiene is focused on a couple areas of particular interest.

“I would love to do something that would either connect me with the outdoors or to sustainability,” said Kiene.

Her interest in the environment doesn’t just pertain to her academics. Kiene is looking forward to exploring what Campus Recreation has to offer through their Adventure program.

“I’d love to get involved with something outdoorsy, going on trips kayaking or something like that,” she said.

The Adventure program offers trips and activities like day hikes, backpacking, kayaking, camping, and more. The program also provides high-quality rental equipment and resources at an affordable price.

Kiene is looking forward to experiencing college life to the fullest, living in a residence hall with a roommate from her hometown of Schaumburg, getting involved, and finding a good balance between school and her social life.

As Kiene adds up her experiences over the next four years, she is confident that Illinois State will provide the best equation for landing a personally rewarding and impactful career after graduation.

Source : news.illinoisstate.edu