From Equations to Pictures: an Explanation of Magnetic Resonance Imaging and other Mathematical Gems in Medicine

Carlton Cross

Dr. Laura Foster

The purpose of this presentation is to outline the process of obtaining magnetic resonance imaging used in clinical brain imaging. We will discuss the differences among T1-weighted, T2-weighted, FLAIR, and diffusion-weighted imaging, as well as some clinical applications. Anecdotes about being a mathematician in the medical world will also be presented.

Laura Foster is the genetic product of two Walla Walla math majors. In elementary school, she quickly learned to do her math homework by herself because her parents would "help" by saying, "This would be really easy to solve with the quadratic equation. Do you know what that is?" She eventually followed her parents' example by graduating from the math department in 2008. She has since completed medical school at Loma Linda University and is currently in a neurology residency at the University of Minnesota.

For pleasure, she attends symphony concerts and runs outside. She completed her first marathon in May of 2012, and the latest challenge to dress properly for runs in temperatures between 0 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit.