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Black History Month
2023 Honoree

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Abiy Tasissa

Abiy Tasissa

Assistant Professor

Tufts University


Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


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

In high school, while taking a basic technical drawing course, one of the interesting parts for me was how mathematical propositions/results can be deduced from simple geometrical axioms e.g., I found deriving the equation of the ellipse using basic geometrical assumptions to be a fulfilling exercise.  In college, I took a course on electromagnetism. The highlight of the course for me was learning about Maxwell’s equations which result from a set of modeling assumptions and vector calculus. 


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

My proudest accomplishment was having my first mathematical paper published. I worked hard on the problem and persisted despite the different challenges. I learned the values of perseverance and trusting oneself and I regard the whole process and the lesson to be my most proud accomplishment.


What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your personal life?

My most proud accomplishment was finishing my Ph.D. in Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Please share some words of wisdom/inspiration.

It is easy to get excited by a problem by considering its motivation and/or applications. It is also easy to get excited by looking at the final solution which uses a mix of different ideas and techniques. When working on a research project, I believe it is equally important to focus on the process and work hard on what could be considered the unglamorous, mundane, routine or “boring” aspects. I have learned that doing such tasks thoroughly has helped me deepen my understanding of concepts on the subject matter.