UCF engineering Assistant Professor Talea Mayo will showcase her work about coastal flooding today during the Coalition for National Science Funding’s 24th annual Capitol Hill Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

The coalition hosts the event each year as part of its overall mission to “impress upon Congress the importance of steady and sustained investments in science…if the United States is to remain the world’s innovation leader.”

Karen Saxe, director of the Office of Government Relations of the American Mathematical Society, asked Mayo to showcase her research in applied mathematics during the event. Not only does the work address a pressing problem for Florida, but it also is part of an NSF research grant to support undergraduate women and minorities in STEM fields.

Mayo is a strong advocate of the role mentors play in diversifying the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Academia is extremely challenging at every stage, particularly in STEM disciplines, and particularly for women and people of color,” she said. “I have been mentored at every stage of my career and I know it has played an integral role in my success thus far. Only 4.8 percent of people with careers in STEM are black, so I know it is not by chance that I am one of them. The statistics for other groups are similarly low, so while the problem is large, I understand that mentorship is an important step towards the solution.”

Engineering student Cindi-Ann Findley will be in Washington with Mayo to participate in the exhibition. Findley has worked with Mayo on the mathematical modeling project.

The duo will continue their research this summer at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO, and this fall back at UCF.

“We hope our work will assist decision makers and emergency managers in best accounting for all of the factors that contribute to coastal flooding during hurricanes,” Mayo said.