Eugenia Cheng

Mathematician, pianist
Eugenia Cheng devotes her life to mathematics, the piano and helping people.

Why you should listen

Dr. Eugenia Cheng quit her tenured academic job for a portfolio career as a research mathematician, educator, author, columnist, public speaker, artist and pianist. Her aim is to rid the world of math phobia and develop, demonstrate and advocate for the role of mathematics in addressing issues of social justice.

Her first popular math book, How to Bake Pi, was published by Basic Books in 2015 to widespread acclaim including from the New York TimesNational GeographicScientific American, and she was interviewed around the world including on the BBCNPR and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Her second book, Beyond Infinity was published in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Royal Society Insight Investment ScienceBook Prize. Her most recent book, The Art of Logic in an Illogical World, was published in 2018 and was praised in the Guardian.

Cheng was an early pioneer of math on YouTube, and her most viewed video, about math and bagels, has been viewed more than 18 million times to date. She has also assisted with mathematics in elementary schools and high schools for 20 years. Cheng writes the "Everyday Math" column for the Wall Street Journal, is a concert pianist and founded the Liederstube, a not-for-profit organization in Chicago bringing classical music to a wider audience. In 2017 she completed her first mathematical art commission, for Hotel EMC2 in Chicago; her second was installed in 2018 in the Living Architecture exhibit at 6018 North.

Cheng is Scientist In Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and won tenure in Pure Mathematics at the University of Sheffield, UK. She is now Honorary Fellow at the University of Sheffield and Honorary Visiting Fellow at City University, London. She has previously taught at the universities of Cambridge, Chicago and Nice and holds a PhD in pure mathematics from the University of Cambridge. Her research is in the field of Category Theory, and to date she has published 16 research papers in international journals.
You can learn more about her in this in-depth biographic interview on the BBC's Life Scientific.