Alba Malaga, Postdoctoral Fellow, The Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics


In this Zoom interview, which took place a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Alba Malaga, who was completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Brown’s Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics at the time, speaks about her experience navigating quarantine due to social distancing policies, motherhood, and research in the early days of the pandemic.

Malaga begins by summarizing her background as a Polish-Peruvian academic who largely lives and works in France. She describes the circumstances that led to her arrival at Brown in the fall of 2019 and her experience at the University before the onset of the pandemic, noting that she was originally pleased to have secured a year-length position in a landscape of shorter fellowship appointments. But as the world shut down mid-March 2020, she found herself suddenly untethered from her workplace.

Malaga then speaks about a number of difficult decisions she had to make for herself and her family — including managing the stress of illness, childcare, and work with the looming threat of COVID-19 and stringent isolation policies. She also compares her experience to that of her family in Perú. Malaga grappled with whether to move back to France or remain in the United States, ultimately deciding to return to her husband and baby in France due to the strain of separation.

Malaga concludes by touching on an additional axis of isolation she has experienced — being a woman in mathematics. She notes that there are so few women in the field that it is difficult to compare her experience to others’ or to define herself in relation to her male counterparts.


Recorded on May 1, 2020 on Zoom
Interviewed by Mary Murphy, Nancy L. Buc ’65 LLD’94 hon Pembroke Center Archivist

Suggested Chicago style citation: Alba Malaga, Postdoctoral Fellow, The Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics Interview. By Mary Murphy. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. May 1, 2020.


Alba Málaga Sabogal is a Polish-Peruvian mathematician and researcher who has lived and worked in a number of different positions in locations ranging from Korea to Senegal. In France, she has coordinated the French chapter of the Imaginary project — an open mathematics platform that allows users to experiment with interactive software, and authored a number of papers on ergodicity. She received her PhD from Université Paris-Sud XI – Orsay in 2014. She is a mother of three children.