Mathematicians hoping to work in and around greater Los Angeles can expect to experience tight competition for available jobs in the coming years. Qualified candidates with a solid background in computer science or statistics should be able to seek and secure employment at a scientific research facility or governmental entity. Many ambitious students who have earned a doctoral degree are finding rewarding opportunities in the role of professors of mathematics at a college or university.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Cynthia Wyels)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Cynthia Wyels)

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Dr. Cynthia Wyels is among more than 3,700 mathematicians nationwide working actively with formulas, theories and techniques to help others throughout varied industries solve practical problems. Her foray into this physical and social science discipline was a career venture worth pursuing.

“In college, I had many interests. Math was initially not one of them,” said Wyels, a professor of mathematics at California State University, Channel Islands. “By taking math classes to keep other doors open, I gradually came to appreciate the challenges, as well as the way that studying mathematics develops your reasoning skills.”

What was your strategic career path?

“After graduate school, I held short-term positions at the U.S. Military Academy and Weber State University and spent nine years at California Lutheran University before arriving at this institution. Along the way, I found plenty of people to learn from and opportunities to develop professional skills.”

How has your advanced education served you?

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“A Ph.D. in mathematics is necessary to begin a career as an academic mathematician. From that point, you’re constantly learning to become a better teacher and mentor, discoverer of new mathematical results and contributor to the university or community.”

What has been your greatest achievement?

“My career objectives emphasize facilitating student growth and success through working with individual students and building programs. I could point to a national teaching award I received, but more important is the aggregate of any positive impacts I’ve had on people’s lives.”

What is your message to aspiring mathematicians?

“Mathematics is a great vocation for those who love intellectual challenges. Early on, students should learn all they can and seek an experience conducting research with a faculty mentor.”

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Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.