A Mathematically Gifted and Black Mama

Each year in celebration of Black History Month, the website Mathematically Gifted and Black features a daily profile of an outstanding Black mathematician.  Although each profile is noteworthy (please check out some of their past honorees), today we work in conjunction with their editors to also feature Caprice Stanley, a mathematician at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who is also a “Math Mama”.

Keep reading to learn more about this outstanding mathematician who meets the demands of her career while raising her two year old son, Quincy.

Where are you from?

I was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I completed my undergraduate degree in mathematics at George Washington University and went on to complete my Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

Please describe an experience (or 2) that helped you discover/cultivate your interest in the mathematical sciences.

In 2013, I had the opportunity to participate in the MSRI Undergraduate Program. There I worked in a small group on a research problem in algebraic combinatorics. My experience that summer was transformative as it was my first exposure to research in mathematics. In addition, meeting other folks at various stages (ranging from graduate student up to tenured professor) of their math career and from a diverse range of backgrounds normalized the idea for me that I could be productive and successful as a mathematician, too. 

Another significant experience was the summer before starting my grad program, that I spent reviewing algebra and analysis with the EDGE program for Women. Of course, it was super helpful to study course materials, but what I gained from EDGE, that was more impactful, was a community of women who were also embarking upon the grad school journey. From that community I was able to fellowship, get advice navigating challenging situations, receive encouragement, and so much more. And being a part of the larger EDGE community continues enrich my career in many ways

What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your career in the mathematical sciences?

One of the proudest accomplishments in my life is my 2 year old son Quincy. And one of the proudest moments in my career was having him and my family attend my dissertation defense.

Please share some words of wisdom/inspiration.

There is a pervasive misconception that to be “good at math” requires one to be born with the trait. It does not. When I think about my own journey, I recognize that what has gotten me this far is hard work, resilience, and support from my community. For anyone considering a career in math I would say to work hard, do not be discouraged, find your community, and practice self-care!



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