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Barbara Csima

“Mathematics, to me is . . .pushing the boundaries of human understanding.”
Barbara's Biography

Barbara Csima is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pure Mathematics at the University of Waterloo. Her research area is Computability Theory, a branch of Mathematical Logic.

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Barbara completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, where she earned an Hon. B.Sc. in the Mathematics Specialist and Actuarial Science Major programs. She pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago, where she earned her PhD in Mathematics in 2003. She then spent two years as an H. C. Wang Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Cornell University before joining the University of Waterloo in 2005.

During her time at Waterloo, Barbara has supervised one PhD student, five Masters students, and four postdoctoral fellows. She has served as chair of the Women in Math Committee, and co-chair of the organizing committee for Two Weeks at WATERLOO – A Summer School for Women in Math, that ran in 2012 and again in 2014.

It is okay to do things at the last minute, you just need to know when the last minute is.

If I have to choose a favourite, I would say it is working in a small group on a research problem. But much of what I enjoy is the variety of work that the job entails – teaching students in large and small lectures, one-on-one mentoring of graduate students and postdocs, service to the department, faculty and university, as well as the maintaining of the research program.

I jog three times a week, and try to go out for lunch at least twice a week. Mostly I relax by spending time with my family – chatting with my husband, helping my small children play with their toys, or going for walks or to the playground.

I was fortunate to have my father, who was a Professor of Mathematics at McMaster University, as a mentor. He was the one who first showed me the beauty of mathematics. My thesis advisor, postdoctoral supervisor, as well as senior colleagues at Waterloo have also been valuable resources. It is important to have role models, and people to turn to for advice.

Only pursue mathematics if you enjoy the journey. Be aware that it is a long journey, and often times, quite literally a journey. I had no idea how much travel the profession involved when I entered it! If you are enjoying yourself, it can be a wonderful career.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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