Research Assistant Professor, Simons Center for Geometry & Physics, Stony Brook University

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Believe in yourself - the future is female.

Catherine Cannizzo

What do you do?

My job consists of three parts: 1) mathematical research in geometry which involves trying to understand four dimensions (our 3D world + a fourth dimension for time!) and higher dimensions, 2) teaching math to undergraduates and graduate students and 3) professional activities (organizing seminars and conferences) and trying to break down barriers to academia for others.

Why did you choose this field?

I would say my family has been the most influential. My mother studied chemical physics (physics of small things) and my father studied astrophysics (physics of large things). I always assumed I was going into the physical sciences. My mother coached my math club in school, which completely normalized being a woman in math. My parents gave me this game called "Logical Journey of the Zoombinis" which I loved as a kid, and looking back it's actually very mathematical. I've always been a visual person, and have loved geometry and math for as long as I can remember. I feel very fortunate for my parents. I think I became serious about mathematics as a career after my last year as an undergraduate, when I did a research experience for undergraduates (REU) and found I really liked the research experience. I went on to do a masters, then PhD, and now I'm a postdoc.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Coming out as a lesbian

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love research, and thinking in depth about something to try and understand it. It's like feeling around in a dark room, and slowly mapping out everything around you until you've created a beautiful castle. I also find the mathematical community I spend my time with to be good people whom I connect well with. I wake up excited to learn every day.

Best advice for next generation?

Believe in yourself - the future is female, the future is color, and STEM needs you.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

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