Sommer Gentry

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Sommer Elizabeth Gentry is an American mathematician who works as a professor of mathematics at the United States Naval Academy and as a research associate in surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her research concerns operations research and its applications to the optimization of organ transplants, [1] and has led to the discovery of geographic inequities in organ allocation. [2] She is also interested in dancing, teaches swing dancing at the Naval Academy, [3] and wrote her doctoral dissertation on the mathematics and robotics of dance. [4]


Early life and education

Gentry is originally from California. [5] As a girl, she was inspired to continue in mathematics by the recreational mathematics columns of Martin Gardner and Ivars Peterson. [6] In 1993, as a senior at Thousand Oaks High School, Gentry had the highest individual score at the Ventura County, California county-level Academic Decathlon. [7] She graduated from Stanford University in 1998, with both a bachelor's degree in mathematical and computational sciences and a master's degree in engineering-economic systems and operations research.

She completed her Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005. [1] Her dissertation, Dancing cheek to cheek: haptic communication between partner dancers and swing as a finite state machine, was supervised by Eric Feron. [4] In her doctoral research, she modeled the language and notation of dance mathematically using finite state machines, programmed a robot to dance, [8] and used her model to improve haptic communications between humans and robots, with the goal of eventually producing human-machine surgical collaborations that could be more effective than human or robotic surgeons working alone. [9] [10]

Other activities

Gentry is married to Israeli surgeon Dorry Segev. She met him at a Lindy Hop dance competition in 1999, and a few years later they won the British Championship in Lindy Hop. She has also worked with Segev on the Kidney Paired Donation program. [5]

In 2017, Gentry was a competitor on the Fox Television game show Superhuman. [11]

She has also been a vocal critic of the airport passenger screening procedures of the US Transportation Security Administration, which she characterizes as sexual assault. [12]


Gentry won the Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning Faculty Member of the Mathematical Association of America in 2009. [13] She won the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 2014, [1] and in the same year was a finalist for the INFORMS Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice. [14] She will deliver a Mathematical Association of America (MAA) invited lecture at MathFest 2021. [15]

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  1. 1 2 3 Sommer Gentry, United States Naval Academy , retrieved 2019-08-27
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine (December 17, 2018), Study affirms geographic discrimination in allocating lungs for transplant via Eurekalert
  3. Pacella, Rachael (April 22, 2018), "Naval Academy professor teaches by doing in both dance, math", Washington Times
  4. 1 2 Sommer Gentry at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. 1 2 Mccauley, Mary Carole (November 14, 2012), "'Genius' pair rewrite rules of organ transplants, among other interests", Sun Magazine, Baltimore Sun
  6. "An Interview with Sommer Gentry" (PDF), Girls' Angle Bulletin, 10 (3): 3, February–March 2017
  7. Sommer, Constance (November 21, 1993), "Moorpark High Wins Academic Decathlon", Los Angeles Times
  8. "MIT Student Dances With Robots", ScienceDaily, February 6, 2004
  9. Mackenzie, Dana (December 26, 2004), "A Matter of Balance", Non-Trivial Pursuits, SIAM News
  10. "Jiving With a Machine", Science, 303 (5664): 1609a, March 2004, doi:10.1126/science.303.5664.1609a, S2CID   220093283
  11. Britto, Brittany (July 18, 2017), "Canton resident, Naval Academy math professor to display puzzle-solving skills on Fox's 'Superhuman'", Baltimore Sun
  12. Boyle, Tim (November 30, 2004), Women complain about airport patdowns: Intrusive searches by TSA employees described as humiliating, NBC News; Johnson, Keith (March 2, 2012), "More Women Speaking Out About Humiliating Experiences With TSA", American Free Press ; Elliott, Christopher (July 28, 2014), "How the TSA beat fliers into submission", USA Today ; Statement of Sommer Gentry to ASAC - Transportation Security
  13. Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning Faculty Member, Mathematical Association of America , retrieved 2019-08-27
  14. "Sommer Gentry", Recognizing Excellence, INFORMS , retrieved 2019-08-27
  15. "Invited Addresses | Mathematical Association of America". Retrieved 2021-06-04.