Professor Dr. Angela Stevens

© privat/Markus Schmidtchen

Angela Stevens is a professor of applied analysis. She specializes in the theory and the qualitative behavior of solutions of non-linear partial differential equations (PDEs). She works on PDEs of parabolic and of transport-type, with several results also on hyperbolic systems and on the limiting behavior of interacting stochastic many particle systems.

She is particularly interested in mathematical modeling in biology and medicine, where she analyses developmental processes and cell motility. Her work combines rigorous mathematical research with challenging problems in the life sciences.

Angela Stevens studied mathematics at the University of Cologne, with a minor in biology. Her diploma thesis dealt with generalized zeta-functions in analytical number theory. Her PhD-thesis at the University of Heidelberg (1992) provided the first rigorous derivation of cross-diffusion PDE systems from interacting stochastic many particle systems, which play a major role in chemotaxis and self-organization of microorganisms.

She was visiting scholar in 1997/98 at Stanford University, and moved to a permanent position at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leipzig (MPI MIS) in 1999. Due to an offer from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA she was promoted to an associate professor position at MPI MIS. In 2006 she became honorary professor at the University of Leipzig. She was appointed full professor at the University of Heidelberg in 2007. After offers from the Universities of Cologne and Münster she moved to Münster in 2011.

Interacting stochastic many-particle systems and partial differential equations for chemotaxis.
© MM

What are the most important aspects about being a mathematician for you?

Mathematics is the "language" of abstraction.
It allows to formulate and to tackle questions of deep interest in a structured way.
"Speaking" mathematics crucially influences reasoning.
Developing mathematics further and using it, in order to better understand -
also real life - problems is a very satisfying goal; Examples, among many others,
are highly complex and nonlinear dynamics, which occur in all sciences.

I like the freedom of thinking in mathematics.
I like the flat hierarchies among mathematicians.
I like curiosity driven mathematical research.
Mathematics is unbribable - an inspiring and powerful tool.

Mathematics was surely not the only choice, when thinking about what to "do with my life".
But again and again it very strongly feels like my right choice.

Looking back, what were the most important moments in your career?

Finishing the PhD (in Heidelberg) and getting the first permanent position (at the MPI MIS in Leipzig) are among the most important steps in a scientific career.

Those were also mathematically formative steps, as were the extended research stays at Stanford, in Salt Lake City, at RIMS in Kyoto, and the long-lasting mathematical collaborations with colleagues from South Korea, Spain, and many other places.

Having been exposed to a mathematically very diverse and active research group during my PhD-studies and to the "Californian way of doing mathematics" - if existent - and working at a pure research institution (MPI) for several years, were central for becoming the mathematician I am today.

Personally, the silent moments of deeper understanding in mathematics and because of mathematics are most important to me.

Angela Stevens is regularly co-organizing workshops in Oberwolfach on various topics of mathematics in the life sciences. She has been PI of the Cluster of Excellence: Cells in Motion (2012-2019) and is member of the Cells in Motion Interfaculty Centre. She is PI in the Cluster of Excellence Mathematics Münster, and has been member of its executive board until 2019. She is especially interested in connecting the theory of PDEs with stochastic analysis and with geometry. In 2018 she was member of the Expert Panel for ERC Starting Grants.

Selected publications: