Tasha R. Inniss
place: New Orleans
B.S. Xavier University of Louisiana; MS in Applied Mathematics from Georgia Institute of Technology
Ph.D. (2000) University of Maryland, College Park
area: Statistics, Operations Research, Data Mining; thesis: Stochastic Models for the Estimation of Airport Arrival Capacity Distributions; Advisor: Michael O. Ball
Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Trinity College, Washington, D.C.
Inniss, along with Sherry Scott and Kimberly Weems, is the first African-American woman to receive the Ph.D. in mathematics from the university, said that the support they got from the program was important in their success. They lauded the faculty and the opportunities available at Maryland, and commended the school for welcoming them and making them feel at home from the very beginning.
Inniss, whose thesis title is "Distributed Stochastic Models for the Estimation of Airport Arrival Capacity Distributions," said her mother teaches sociology at Florida A & M University and strongly believes in the value of education. And she said her grandfather, a 6th grade teacher with a master's degree from Harvard, was an inspiration and another major source of encouragement. "He taught me my multiplication tables," she said.
In the fourth grade long division won her heart. She was thrilled to conquer denominators of two digits, then three, then more, scratching out the descending columns of figures that would lead, with satisfying logic, to an answer, "In fourth grade when I won second place in a math competition, my grandfather was in the front row."
"I never was given the impression that a woman could not or was not supposed to do math," Inniss said. "There weremany teachers, including my grandfather, that fostered and encouraged my love in math. These teachers and mentors have influenced me to give back a little of what they have given me."
She says it is discouraging that there are so few women and minorities in mathematics and that progress in graduating more minority Ph.D.s has been so slow. "The fighting doesn't stop. You still have to prove yourself," Scott said.
Despite these feelings, the women say they are encouraged about the future. "You have to show 'em, don't tell 'em," Inniss said. "Be that good teacher and be that good researcher."
Inniss teaches at Trinity College in Washington, D.C. where she has been appointed as a Clare Boothe Luce Professor, and also consults for the Federal Aviation Administration.
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