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Shannon Fitzpatrick

“Mathematics, to me is …. surprising. I am constantly amazed by how some complex problems can be expressed so succinctly through mathematics, while other seemingly simple mathematical ideas can be incredibly difficult to prove.”
Shannon's Biography

I received my Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Mathematics and Physics from Saint Mary’s University in 1992, and my Masters of Mathematics in Combinatorics and Optimization from the University of Waterloo in 1993. I did my PhD studies at Dalhousie University under the supervision of Dr. Richard Nowakowski.

Upon completion of my PhD in 1997, I held a term faculty positions at the University of New Brunswick (St John campus) and Acadia University. This was followed by post-doctoral positions at Dalhousie University with Dr. Jeanette Janssen and the University of Victoria with Dr. Gary MacGillivray.

In 2000, I joined the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Prince Edward Island. I received tenure in 2004, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2005. In 2013, I was appointed Chair of the department.

My research is in the field of graph theory. I am particularly interested in Pursuit- Evasion games on graphs, including the game of Cops and Robber. I have been an active member of the East Coast Combinatorics Group, twice hosting the group’s annual conference at UPEI. I am also a member of the AARMSfunded Graphs and Games Collaborative Research Group.

I have been an active member of the Canadian Math Society (CMS) for many years, serving on the Board of Directors from 2009 to 2013. I have been a member of the CMS Women in Mathematics Committee since 2008, and chair of that committee since 2012. The committee is currently organizing a workshop at the Banff International Research Station for PhD students and Post-doctoral fellows working toward careers in academia. In addition, I am also a scientific director for the upcoming CMS 2014 Summer Meeting.

To show up. No matter how tired or ill prepared I was, I went to class – I felt there was value in every lecture I attended. Today, I very much believe that if you want to have an impact on things that are important to you, the first step is to show up.

Collaborating. When you work with others on a research problem, everyone brings a unique perspective, and you learn so much. The best part is when things start falling into place,and you see how excited everyone is over the new result.

I love to spend time at the beach. PEI has the most beautiful beaches, and there’s nowhere I’d rather be in the summer.

They have been very important. As an undergrad, I had the opportunity to work with a faculty member under the NSERC USRA program. He introduced me to the field of graph theory, and encouraged me to pursue graduate work in the field. My PhD supervisor probably had the greatest influence. He was extremely generous and encouraging, and still continues to motivate me.

Never. Growing up, I thought mathematics was merely a tool used in other sciences. It wasn’t until the end of my second year of university that I considered majoring in mathematics.

I would suggest introducing yourself to mathematics faculty members. For high school students, that could take the form of an email to the chair of a mathematics department indicating your desire to learn more about careers in math. For an undergrad, it could mean visiting your professor outside of class to ask about his or her research program. I have always found mathematicians to be extremely encouraging, and I am pretty certain such inquiries will be very well received.

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