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Number Cruncher

Tasha Boland ’18 combines math and economics to conduct research on economic inequality

Tasha Boland is majoring in mathematics and economics

Even for Mathematics majors, following a formula isn’t enough to quench students’ intellectual curiosity in Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It can take hours of calculations to find the solution to a math problem—and Tasha Boland ’18 CLAS says that’s her favorite part.

“One of my favorite aspects of math is the process of solving problems, not so much finding a solution right away,” she says. “I really enjoy the process of discovery.”

Tasha says she’s loved math since elementary school, but Villanova ignited her passion for the subject. She decided to pursue a double major in Mathematics and Economics and found she enjoyed applying numerical solutions to understand real-world problems.

As a junior, Tasha and her classmate Shantel Silva ’18 CLAS conducted research on economic inequality. They used the Gini coefficient, a well-known mathematical metric used to study economic inequality in a population, and a new metric proposed by Villanova professors in the Department of Mathematics Statistics Robert T. Jantzen, PhD, and Klaus Volpert, PhD. They were able to draw conclusions about the accuracy of these metrics and what it says about how inequality changed over time. The students went on to present their research at the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics.

“It was an amazing experience to present at the conference. We met women with degrees in math who work in academia and industry, and it was really encouraging to see all of the different possibilities for a woman pursuing a degree in math,” says Tasha.

Tasha also completed two senior research projects—one in mathematics and one in economics. With robust research experience and guidance from renowned faculty scholars, Tasha graduates with career- ready credentials and earned a position as an actuarial analyst at MassMutual after graduation.

“Going through the process of discovery can be challenging. I had a lot of support from great faculty members, but also the opportunity to make mistakes and succeed on my own.”