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Black History Month
2022 Honoree

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Cassandra McZeal

Cassandra McZeal

Computational & Data Sciences Manager


Where are you from?

Houston, Texas


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

I had no intention of majoring in mathematics as an undergrad at Southwestern University until the end of my sophomore year when I could no longer avoid officially declaring a major.  My assigned undergrad advisor — who just happened to be the Chair of the Mathematics Department — pointed out that although I’d taken courses in nearly every other department, the only classes I consistently took every semester were in the Math Department.  I was reluctant to earn a degree in mathematics because I had no idea what I would do to earn a living with one.  My advisor suggested that I attend a MAA/AMS conference to learn about careers in math.  At this conference, I met Richard Tapia from Rice University.  Professor Tapia invited me to apply for Rice’s summer program for undergrad students in the Department of Computational & Applied Mathematics (CAAM).  I discovered during my two summers at Rice that what I truly loved was applied mathematics and returned to Rice after graduating from Southwestern to earn a PhD in CAAM.


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

I’m most proud of the collective accomplishments of the organization that I lead.  My role is to provide resources and remove barriers so that we can address some of the toughest computational challenges and provide actionable insights to the business.  I truly work with some of the smartest people in the world, and it is an honor and a privilege to lead them.


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

Without a doubt, raising my two amazing daughters — Madelyn and Lena.


Please share some words of wisdom/inspiration.

The best professional advice I’ve ever received was simply “When your child is sick, go home.”  In other words, know what’s most important to you and act accordingly.