Barbara Csima earned her BSc from the University of Toronto, studying pure mathematics and actuarial science. She then continued her studies in the mathematics PhD program at the University of Chicago, specializing in an area of mathematical logic known as computability theory. She then spent two years as an H. C. Wang assistant professor at Cornell University, before coming back to Canada as an Assistant Professor in the Pure Mathematics department at the University of Waterloo. During her time at Waterloo, Prof Csima has gone on a number of extended research visits to locations in Singapore, New Zealand and France, among others.
The job of a professor has a variety of components, all of which overlap. There is the teaching of undergraduate and graduate students in the form of instructing classes. There is the supervision of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the form of mentoring individual projects. There is service to the university and the research community, in the form of committee membership, conference organizing, etc. And there is the maintaining of one’s own research program.
The variety of the work keeps it exciting. Sometimes one is discussing the early stages of a research project with colleagues. Other times one is writing results formally for publication. There are many opportunities for travel to conferences to present results, and to find out other current developments in the area of research. Naturally, there is the banging of one’s head when stuck on a research problem, but this is balanced with other tasks such as teaching and organizational activities which have more immediate results. Far from being a solitary activity, a mathematician in a university environment is constantly interacting with students, fellow colleagues at the same university, and colleagues around the world with the same research interests.