I am originally from Los Angeles, and I completed by undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount, before going to the University of California, Santa Barbara for my Ph.D., completed under the direction of Kenneth Millett.
My current research interests focus on modeling polymer entanglement. The effect of thickness, or excluded volume, on polymers effects the size, shape and knot formation probabilities of those configurations. As a part of my dissertation I developed an algorithm for ergodically generating off-lattice, open chains with a specified thickness. More recently, I have been studying how the squared radius of gyration scales as a function of both length and thickness, and the effects of thickness on the knot distribution of random thick open chains. For more information, please see the links to my publications below.
- Off-lattice random walks with excluded volume: A new method of generation, proof of ergodicity and numerical results, Laura Plunkett and Kyle Chapman. 2016 J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 49.13 135203
- An Analysis of Shape, Scaling and Knotting in Polymer Models With and Without Excluded Volume. Laura Plunkett. Doctoral Thesis. University of California, Santa Barbara, 201
- Laura Plunkett. Doctoral Thesis. University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013
- Characteristics of shape and knotting in ideal rings. Laura Zirbel and Kenneth C Millett. 2012 J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 45 225001
- Lissajous knots and knots with Lissajous projections. Jim Hoste, Laura Zirbel. Kobe Journal of Mathematics, vol. 24, no. 2. (2007)
Speeches, colloquial, public appearances
- Knotting and Size in Ergodically Generated Off-Lattice Walks with Excluded Volume. Invited Paper Session on Random Polygons and Knots, Joint Mathematics Meeting, Atlanta, January 2017
- Size and knotting results for open chains, generated ergodically, with arbitrarily large excluded volume.
- Special Session on Knotting in Physical Systems, American Mathematical Society Sectional Meeting, University of St. Thomas, October 2016
- The Math of Thick Knots, Math Department Colloquium, University of San Francisco, May 5, 2015 Math and Knots: How to Keep Your Headphones from Tangling, Faculty Colloquium, Holy Names University, October 11, 2014
- Averages of subsegment end to end distance and radius of gyration in ideal rings, Special Session on Applications of Knot Theory to the Entanglement of Biopolymers, Spring Western Section Meeting of AMS, October 26, 2014
- Knotting and Shape of Off-Lattice Random Walks with Excluded Volume, Georgia Topology Conference, University of Georgia, August 2013
- An Analysis of Shape, Scaling and Knotting in Polymer Models With Excluded Volume, Thesis Defense, Topology Seminar, UCSB, April 9, 2013
- Knotting in a New Model for Self Avoiding Random Walks, Women in Mathematics Symposium, Uni- versity of Southern California, October 27, 2012.
- Averages of subsegment end to end distance and radius of gyration in ideal rings, Special Session on Knotting in Linear and Ring Polymer Models, Spring Western Section Meeting of AMS, March 4, 2012
- Random Embedded Polygons and Characteristics Correlated with Knotting, Women in Mathematics Symposium, Claremont McKenna College, November 20, 2010
Awards and grants
- Project NExT Fellow, August 2014
- Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from UCSB Math Department, June 2013
- Mathematical Biosciences Institute Conference Award at the AWM Poster Session, January 2013
- AWM Workshop Travel Grant, January 2013
- Department of Mathematics Graduate Merit Fellowship, UCSB, Spring 2012
- Academic Senate Doctoral Student Travel Grant, UCSB April 2012
- AMS Travel Grant to Sectional Meetings, April 2012
- Institute of Mathematics and its Applications travel grant, March 2010