Dr Laura Oporto Lisboa has become the first ever Paraguayan woman to be awarded a PhD in Mathematics, having completed her degree course at the University of Bath this Autumn.

She said: “Realising I was the first woman from Paraguay to get a PhD in Maths was a bit overwhelming, but I’m very happy that this news is spreading in my country, as Paraguay has lots of economic problems and many young women avoid studying Maths because they don’t see the career opportunities that come from such a degree – I hope to set an example as a woman who can make a success of life with a Maths qualification.”

Dr Oporto Lisboa said she was inspired to study Mathematics at Bath after speaking to two academics from Paraguay who had also studied Maths at Bath. This encounter happened towards the end of her undergraduate degree in Engineering, which she was undertaking at the National University of Asuncion in Paraguay.

She said: “They told me about SAMBa (the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training Statistical Applied Mathematics at Bath) and about how supported they felt at Bath, and I was immediately interested.”

She added: “The university has been incredibly welcoming and supportive towards me, and I have found a lovely community within the Maths department with a strong network of female mathematicians.”

Dr Oporto Lisboa now works as a Mathematical Innovation Research Fellow (MIRA) at the Institute for Mathematical Innovation (IMI) at Bath. The main focus of her research is the microstructure of ceramic materials – a field that straddles mathematics and mechanical engineering. Her PhD research centred on modelling the air pollution levels in a city, concentrating on traffic emissions.

Dr Theresa Smith, senior lecturer in Statistics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Bath, said: “Being the first woman from Paraguay to gain a PhD in Maths is a huge achievement and everyone at SAMBa offers Laura their heartfelt congratulations.

"Laura's research arose out of a SAMBa Integrative Think Tank in Spring 2019 and it put together ideas from fluid dynamics and spatial statistics. She excelled at mastering both the theory side and the implementation side of her project, and I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with her in her new role.

“I have no doubt that Laura will go on to use her mathematical talents to make a big impact in Bath and more widely.”

Christian Schaerer, professor of Mathematics at the Polytechnic School based in the National University of Asuncion Campus de la UNA in Paraguay, and president of the Paraguayan Mathematical Society, said: "I'm very happy for Laura – being the first female Paraguayan to obtain a Ph.D. in mathematics is a very important milestone both for her and for our community.

“She is an example for all young women in our country. A new generation of scientists and a new generation of Paraguayan is building, and Laura is proof of this."