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Omayra Y. Ortega is an Associate Professor of Mathematics & Statistics at Sonoma State University in Sonoma County, California.  She earned her Ph.D. (2008) and an M.S. (2005) in applied mathematics and computational sciences from the University of Iowa, where she also was awarded her Masters of Public Health.  She earned a B.A. in music and in pure mathematics from Pomona College in 2001. 

Dr. Ortega has directed the Mathematical Epidemiology Research Group (MERG), an undergraduate research group, since 2007. Her scholarly interests reflect her expertise in mathematics: mathematical and computational biology, mathematical epidemiology in developing countries, infectious disease epidemiology, data science, machine learning and the participation of women, non-gender conforming individuals, and minorities in STEM. 


Dr. Ortega has organized an annual Sonia Kovalesky High School Mathematics Day at several institutions including the University of Iowa, ASU’s West campus, Pomona College, and Sonoma State University in recognition of the day’s namesake, Sonia Kovalevsky, who was one of the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics. These events continue in the spirit of the Association for Women in Mathematics' (AWM) funded events that ran through the early 2000's and extends the original event to additionally honor Ruth Gonzalez, the first Latina to recieve a PhD in Mathematics, and Euphemia Lofton-Haynes, the first African-American woman to receive a PhD in Mathematics.

Dr. Ortegamost recently served as the President of the National Association of Mathematicians Inc. (NAM), a non-profit professional organization in the mathematical sciences with a mission and purpose of promoting excellence in the mathematical sciences and promoting the mathematical development of all underrepresented minorities. Her term as president ran from Jan 2018 until Feb 2024. She previously served as the editor of the NAM newsletter from 2018-2021 and was one of the NAM contributors to the MAA Math Values Blog.

Dr. Ortega is very active in the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). She has served on the AWM Mentor Match Committee since 2009, helped to organize the 2018 AWM Research Symposium at Rice University, and previously served on the AWM Membership Committee (2011-2014). Dr. Ortega is a long-time SACNAS Life Member and Friend of the Society.


In her free time Dr. Ortega enjoys travel, the outdoors and the fiber arts.



Quantitative Justice & Mathematical Modeling

Using tools from statistics, differential equations, dynamical systems, stochastic processes, data science, public health, and epidemiology to mitigate emerging issues in social justice, the STEM community, society, healthcare and public health.


University of Iowa

PhD Applied Mathematics & Computational Sciences (2008)

MPH Master's Degree in Public Health with a concentraion in Biostatistics (2005)

MS Applied Mathematics & Computational Sciences (2005)

Broadening the Participation of Underrepresented Minorities in STEM

1996 - 2001

Pomona College

BA Pure Mathematics (2001)

BA Music Performance (2001)

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