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Mount Made: Mathematics—Life’s Common Denominator


Mount Alumna Sees Natural Beauty and Logic in Numbers

Yafreisy Carrero ’10 is part of a small percentage of the world population (17%—to be exact) that is multilingual. She is able to express herself and communicate with people all over the globe in English, Spanish, and Portuguese (and is currently learning Greek and Turkish). But, there’s one other language Yafreisy considers herself a fluent speaker of that exists as a common denominator around the world.

We’ll give you a hint: it’s not French or Urdu or Mandarin. Give up?

It’s mathematics.

“Mathematics is a worldwide language. It is the language of nature and our primary language,” Yafreisy confidently stated. “When I moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic, I was four years old and I barely spoke a word of English. However, I used the language of mathematics to communicate with others.”

Yafreisy Carrero '10 poses at a small table in a green coat against the background of a pink wall.

Yafreisy declares that mathematics is her native language. She recognizes and understands the beauty and logic of the algorithms illustrated by nature.

Yafreisy is the premier Landscape Mathematician and Civil Engineer—and is the founder and creator of Landscape Mathematics.

We know what you’re probably thinking: That’s fascinating…but what exactly is Landscape Mathematics?

The good news? Yafreisy helped break it down for us:

Landscape Mathematics is an interdisciplinary STEM field that combines knowledge of landscape architecture, mathematics, and engineering used to design, build, and perceive our world through numbers. It is seeing systems in colors, shapes, and numbers among the world’s natural elements, and incorporating and creating those designs into original laws.”

With a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the Mount, and a background in architecture and landscape architecture—holding a master’s degree in civil, environmental, and water resources engineering from George Mason University and graduate coursework and certificates from both Harvard University Graduate School of Design and The City College of New York—Yafreisy created Landscape Mathematics as a way to change and give light to a hidden field of mathematics that already exists in the world. It just needed someone to pull it all together.

“Landscape Mathematicians are mathematical thinkers, designers, philosophers, scientists, and inventors, and can easily recognize and understand the beauty and logic of this world of numbers,” Yafreisy remarked. “Nature already uses the language of mathematics, so why not work with the environment instead of against it. We need to start mimicking the mathematical logic that occurs in our landscapes—identifying existing systems—and, out of those concepts, create new ones.”

Yafreisy first arrived on the Mount’s campus over a decade ago and was immediately drawn to the environment on campus—both literally and figuratively! Of course, she saw the benefits of the College’s intimate community of learners and professors and found opportunity in her studies as a mathematics major with a minor in fine arts. But, calling upon her roots, Yafreisy was also mesmerized by the nature of the Mount’s little pocket in Riverdale. She immediately saw the mathematical structures of the tree branches and the rolling waves of the Hudson.

And yes, you read that correctly: Yafreisy studied both mathematics and fine arts while at the College. It was an interesting and uncommon combination of studies, but it was one of the reasons why Yafreisy chose Mount Saint Vincent—students are encouraged to explore all their interests in areas that might not always fit hand-in-hand.

Yafreisy Carrero '10 poses at a podium at the Clinton Global Initiative University.

After all, she’s a firm believer that nature is a mathematical masterpiece itself. There’s reason, logic, and function behind each and every element of nature—tree branches grow in specified patterns, flowers bloom with symmetry, and water transverses over rocks in serial waves. By diving deeper into her analysis of math in nature, Yafreisy was able to connect back to the mathematical processes that ran in her brain.

She was, of course, inspired by several of her dedicated Mount professors, including Associate Professor of Mathematics Amir Niknejad, Associate Professor of Sociology Omar Nagi, and recently retired Associate Professor of Fine Arts Richard Barnet. She’s carried the ethics and values they instilled in her into her life today—and she’s been moving forward triumphantly ever since!

“Shortly after I graduated from the Mount, in 2011, I collaborated on an international scientific research paper with researchers, mathematicians, and scientists from Ukraine,” Yafreisy described. “The project was led by a professor and colleague, Dr. Konstantin Nosov, from the V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University. This became my first publication! I served as a co-author and editor of the scientific research paper: ‘Discrete Dynamical Modeling of System Characteristics of a Turtle’s Walk in Ordinary Situations and After Slight Stress,’ which appeared in the Bionics of Intelligence journal in Ukraine.”

And speaking of publications, Yafreisy is currently creating her first book, titled “Landscape Mathematics, Design with Numbers”which is all about Landscape Mathematics through her eyes as the creator and founder of the field.

It’s important to note then that Yafreisy isn’t just sitting behind her desk all day dreaming of numbers and trees. She’s putting her work into action, which is greatly evidenced in her Landscape Mathematics programs and the first Landscape Mathematics global project.

A photo looking down on Rio from a hilltop above the city.

In May 2013, Yafreisy traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to work as a volunteer and ambassador for Community in Action, an NGO with a mission of offering social outreach programs throughout Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (low-income communities), as well as conducting personal development opportunities for social entrepreneurs and foreign volunteers. Yafreisy lived in the favelas for three months—where she experienced the same reality she faced as a child in the Dominican Republic. While there, she implemented a unique and complex design of a sequence of Roof-Wall-Landscape Systems within a larger Roof-Wall-Landscape Matrix Network (of which Yafreisy also created) for a mathematical natural water purification system. Don’t worry: we already asked her to translate that from math to English!

“This project improves green infrastructure, stormwater management, water quality, and reduces flood hazards in rural or struggling communities with limited resources,” Yafreisy explained. “Through these initiatives—with the help of the Carrero 3×3 roof-based mathematical natural filtration system, which I designed—we’re giving communities access to potable water, maximizing food production, collecting water, and reducing stormwater runoff.”

With implemented use of the Roof-Wall-Landscape Matrix Network, communities will gain access to potable water 24/7. Families will be able to utilize farming techniques to produce locally grown food, find better security in seasons of drought, and reduce risks associated with disease through improvements to sanitary conditions.

“I see the world in a unique way as a Landscape Mathematician. I see a world of numbers! When I observe nature, concepts and visualizations form in my brain, and systems start to connect mathematically.”

The project is a direct expression of the Mount’s mission. It’s an impressive example of an alum living out the qualities of goodness, discipline, and knowledge well beyond the walls of campus.

“The four years you spend at the Mount as a student really mold you as a person. Fast forward to five, ten, even 50 years after graduation, even if you’re not waking up each morning thinking about how you can live out the College’s mission in all that you do, it’s always subconsciously there.”

And physical construction of the of the Roof-Wall-Landscape Systems—so far in Yafreisy’s homeland of the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and here in the States (where she is now an American citizen)—is just a small part of the change Yafreisy is sparking and the vocation she’s called to.

Yafreisy Carrero '10 poses in front of a town in Rio.

The larger part? Education.

Yafreisy herself admits that educating local communities on how to utilize the Roof-Wall-Landscape Matrix Network in their daily lives is just as—if not more—important than building the structures. Her developments innovate projects in underserved communities using beauty and mathematics, while also teaching properties through nature. And while in Brazil, Yafreisy also taught English and Landscape Mathematics to students from underserved backgrounds.

“While my work helps those in underprivileged communities, it also educates locals on the beauty and logic of the language of mathematics in nature,” Yafreisy mentioned. “The personal and professional success of the members of the communities I work with is the foundation for making Landscape Mathematics a global force for change in underdeveloped countries—which leads to a better quality of life around the world.”

And to add to the excitement of Yafreisy’s work, she was selected as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) in 2016 to present on and discuss the results of the Carrero 3×3 element of the Roof-Wall-Landscape Matrix Network she designed, created, and built in Brazil. Created by former President Bill Clinton and his family, the CGI U is a dynamic community of students committed to developing innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Participants are provided with a unique opportunity to connect with leading experts in business, technology, and social impact.

At the 2016 CGI U meeting held in Berkeley, California, and later at the Clinton Foundation’s annual meeting held here in New York City, Yafreisy met with leaders from around the world to discuss her work on the Roof-Wall-Landscape Matrix Network. She was honored as an exemplary commitment-maker. Her platform focused on poverty alleviation, food security, and education in the United States, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and she was overjoyed to finally be among a community of people who shared her passion for social change.

Yafreisy Carrero '10 (middle) and her classmates pose with former President Bill Clinton.

Photo credit: Clinton Global Initiative.

Today, Yafreisy attributes a lot of her motivation to the birth of her daughter, Valentina, five years ago. Not only is Yafreisy leading the world of Landscape Mathematics, she’s empowering fellow women and young girls who are interested in STEM—still a male-dominated field—to pursue their passions. She admits that she’s starting a revolution!

“In a world of numbers, when women and girls are empowered with an education, the possibilities are endless,” Yafreisy exclaimed. “In our journey to success, as we overcome obstacles, we also metamorphose into leaders that change the game.”

Yafreisy Carrero '10 and her young daughter pose in front of a red train.

Her daughter Valentina is also multilingual—speaking English, Spanish, and, of course, mathematics. She has dreams of becoming a doctor and an astronaut.

“I was raised in the Bronx in New York City,” Yafreisy stated. “I was the first in my family to receive an American education. I took advantage of every opportunity my country had to offer so that I could achieve my American dream—and I want to encourage my daughter to do the same.”

Next on the docket for Yafreisy (aside from changing the world, of course)? Founding her own university! She hopes to, one day, found Landscape Mathematics University—which would be the only university in the world to grant the very first accredited Landscape Mathematics degree. She aspires to create scholarship programs to help increase the number of students attending college. Yafreisy also hopes to soon complete a Ph.D. in neuroscience to be able to incorporate biomedical attributes to her Landscape Mathematics projects.

One thing’s for sure: Yafreisy is a strong believer in making the impossible…possible. If there’s a will, there’s a way—and Yafreisy is going to find that way (using Landscape Mathematics—of course)! She left us with some resounding final thoughts:

“You don’t have to change who you are to create change. The world needs your originality.”

We couldn’t have put it better if we tried.

Are you Mount Made? Do you know other alums carrying out the mission of the College? Let us know—we’d love to share how the College helped launch your career. Contact us to be featured!

About the University of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the University of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of professional accomplishment, service, and leadership in the 21st century.