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Lauren Ancel Meyers speaks at the Center for Advanced Pathogen Threat and Response Simulation (CAPTRS).When Lauren Ancel Meyers was an undergraduate at Harvard University, she twice briefly left school to work for the National Security Agency. Intelligence deemed critical to the country’s safety lay hidden by cryptic ciphers, so her cohort of mathematical code breakers used intricate equations to try to unlock the information. “You learn math in school, and then you learn more complicated math in college,” she says. “But that was my first time using very advanced math to solve really practical problems in the real world.”That her favorite subject held the key to not only solving abstract equations but also addressing imminent threats to the United States was a thrilling revelation for the young math whiz. Still, Meyers—who describes herself as an “academic brat,” the daughter…

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