Dr. Mikahl Banwarth-Kuhn

Welcome!

I am a queer mathematical biologist born and raised at the base of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Albuquerque sits on the traditional homelands of the Pueblo of Sandia. I gratefully recognize the original peoples of New Mexico- Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache- who have demonstrated resilience and resistance in the face of violent efforts to separate them from their land, culture, and each other. They have and continue to make significant contributions to the broader community statewide that undoubetedly shape the lives of all New Mexico inhabitants. I understand that my acknowledgement is only a small step toward the larger project of decolonization and reconciliation.

Me and Pepina the cat.

Recent News & Events

  • August 2021: In-person instruction at UC Merced has been delayed until August 30th.

  • August 2021: I will be teaching three sections of Precalculus at UC Merced this fall. So excited!

  • June 2021: I was awarded an NIH-F32 Postdoctoral Fellowship. 'Bout to be doing some cool research!

About Me

My Personal DEI Mission Statement

I recognize that structural barriers have and continue to limit voices within the STEM field based on race, gender identity or expression, disability status, sexual orientation, and immigration status among others. I have seen that without deliberate action to push the status quo, these barriers and all other oppressive power structures will remain embedded in our culture and institutions. I am committed to using my role and power within the professional spaces I occupy to build a culture in which all voices are heard, valued, and validated. I will do this by supporting and creating programs and policies that increase visibility, amplify the voices of underrepresented genders and people of color, and cultivate a welcoming and inclusive environment within the STEM community.

Postdoctoral Scholar (2019-Present)

I am currently an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow in the Sindi Lab at UC, Merced. My research is focused on developing multiscale modeling frameworks to study prion diseases in yeast.

Me and my sister Brenna at Yosemite. UC Merced is located less than two hours from the park.

PhD Student (2013-2019)

I obtained my PhD in Mathematics from the University of California, Riverside under the guidance of my advisor Dr. Mark Alber. During my PhD I developed and implemented a novel multiscale model to study tissue morphogenesis and stem cell regulation in plants. This research was performed as part of an NSF-NIH grant, “Combined Modeling and Experimental Study of the Mechanisms of Growth Patterns in Stem Cell Homeostasis in Plants.” This joint program seeks to support interdisciplinary work between mathematics and biology. I completed my dissertation research in an interdisciplinary team comprised of modelers in the Mathematics Department, experimentalists in the Plant Biology Department and image analysis experts in the Engineering Department.

UC Riverside is located about one hour east of LA. During my first year of graduate school I remember stepping outside to a sunny 75 degrees in the middle of January and thinking, "Ahhh, this is my happy place." From that moment on I officially became a California GURL.

Me, a cool cat.

Mathematics Tutor at Clark College (2011-2013)

After I finished my Bachelor's degree I wasn't quite ready to apply to graduate school. So I turned my math skills into rent money by working as a tutor in the Math Tutoring Center at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. It was here that my love of teaching precalculus was born!

At the time I lived about 10 miles away in Portland and I did not have a car. So I did what people from the PNW (Pacific Northwest) do best, I rode my bike to work every day in the rain. Yes, it rains everyday. By the end I had killer calf muscles and I only crashed my bike once!



The bridge where I crashed. To be fair, there was a sign saying, "Slippery When Wet."

Undergraduate Studies (2009-2011)

I earned my B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Portland (UP) in Portland, Oregon. It was at some point during this chapter of my life that I made the decision to get a PhD in Math!

My work study job was a tutor at Roosevelt High School in North Portland. Roosevelt High School serves the highest concentration of low-income and Latinx students of any high school in Oregon’s largest district. While I was working there, the school received a School Improvement Grant (SIG) from the Obama Administration. As the school transitioned into a college-going campus, I helped students navigate the college admissions process. In this role, I saw how exclusionary the cost and culture of higher education could be

Me attempting to construct a subgroup lattice for the dihedral group D6 out of cupcakes for my undergraduate Abstract Algebra class. It was a delicious failure.

Study Abroad

From January-June of 2009 I studied abroad in Merida, Mexico- the state capital of the Yucatan. This study abroad program was centered around community engagement and service-learning. In addition to taking Spanish classes at The Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, or UADY, I also volunteered in the Emiliano Zapata Sur neighborhood. There I worked with a group of women to address some of their food and health concerns.



Me doing some snorkeling in the Gulf of Mexico.

First Year (and a half) of College (2007-2008)

I started my college career at DePaul University in Chicago. I chose this school because I wanted a "big city" experience and DePaul is where my grandma earned her Bachelor's degree. I loved living in Chicago and sharing Sunday meals with my Great Aunt Jo. She was the best cook in the world and always made sure to supply me with plenty of fresh Italian pastries from the bakery across the street.

While at DePaul, I hadn't quite figured out my major yet (I was leaning toward high school math teacher). But I had the opportunity to participate in several community-based service learning experiences that were absolutely incredible.

Through my spanish classes I participated in a program called Intercambio that paired me and my classmates with ESL students from Erie Neighborhood House to exchange in conversation while learning about important social issues.

I also participated in an Alternative Spring Break Service Immersion in Montgomery, Alabama. During this trip I had the opportunity to explore the American civil rights movement from various perspectives. I visited museums, talked with educators and shared delicious food with community members. It was extremely enlightening.

My grandma Nella (Left) and her younger sister Josephine (Right). My great grandparents came with their brothers and sisters to the US from Sicily in the early 1900s. They all shared a two bedroom flat near downtown Chicago where my grandma grew up.