Graph theory, creativity and education advocacy


- Nicole Crozier

Vanier Scholar Shannon Ogden
Vanier scholar Shannon Ogden (photo supplied).

Shannon Ogden has always been fascinated by patterns. Since the age of seven, she has dreamed of pursuing a PhD in mathematics, and becoming a Vanier Scholar has now turned that dream into a reality.

The essence of mathematics is not computation, but creativity. It is about recognizing patterns, and then discovering new and creative ways to prove that those patterns hold.”

— Shannon Ogden, Vanier scholar

As a graph theorist, Ogden studies graphs: mathematical structures that encode pairwise relationships between objects. For example, consider a social network where each person is represented by a vertex, and two vertices are connected by an edge if the people are friends. Specifically, Ogden’s research is in extremal graph theory, which considers the behaviour of graphs as the number of vertices is allowed to grow towards infinity.

It was the visual nature of graph theory that initially drew Ogden to this area of mathematics.

There is something inherently beautiful about being able to explain a complicated mathematical concept with a relatively simple picture. While the goal of a mathematician is to prove mathematical statements, there is also a strong desire to prove them in a beautiful and elegant way.”

— Shannon Ogden

Ogden holds a BSc Honours in Mathematics and a MSc in Mathematics from the University of Victoria. Beyond her academic achievements, she also has a passion for making higher level mathematics accessible to those without advanced degrees, particularly younger students. As the outreach program coordinator for the UVic student chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics, she created and organized IMAGINING UVic, a summer camp and monthly seminar series aimed at introducing high school girls to higher level mathematical concepts. Ogden plans to continue running the program every second year, in the hopes that it will become a lasting community with a common passion for mathematics.

I am so fortunate to be part of such a supportive and collaborative department and that is the environment I hope to create for our students—one where they can explore the beauty of mathematics together.”

— Shannon Ogden


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Keywords: research, mathematics, science

People: Shannon Ogden

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