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KU Faculty Portrait – Bozenna Pasik-Duncan
Ansley Reynolds
What's in Your Briefcase, Bozenna Pasik-Duncan?

“My passport,” said Bozenna Pasik-Duncan, Ph.D., D.Sc., professor of mathematics and courtesy professor of electrical engineering and computer science and aerospace engineering. “I consider myself a global citizen. I’ve visited more than 55 countries, given talks at international conferences and have been a visiting scholar in many countries. My mother used to say, ‘you live on and with your suitcase’.”

Pasik-Duncan was born in Poland and studied at the University of Warsaw and the Warsaw School of Economics before moving to the U.S. for an International Research Exchange Fellowship. “Mathematics gave me a foundation. It’s a foundation for all sciences because mathematics is about thinking — logical and critical thinking. If you choose only one course at the university, choose mathematical statistics because we deal now with data, randomness and uncertainty. There’s no better course to address that and solve major challenges. Mathematics helps me deal with everyday life.”

She believes building confidence is important in mathematics. “Building confidence — especially for women — is key to success. You can build confidence by developing creativity and effective communication skills and making connections between different disciplines. You can work from scratch, build and design projects and come up with solutions.”

Pasik-Duncan’s research spans from mathematical statistics, to finance, manufacturing systems, telecommunication, epilepsy, biomedicine, mathematics education at all levels and more. Her primary research interest is stochastic adaptive control — using probability and the theory of randomness to predict outcomes. “Stochastic is random, and every environment is random. All of us have to adapt. What we learn today helps us adapt and do better tomorrow.”

Pasik-Duncan has contributed to many publications, but she is most fond of the three books on mathematics she wrote in Polish about 40 years ago. “I still use my books to teach. They are my bibles. When I was away on spring break last year, I didn’t have them and missed them tremendously. I had my secretary ship them to me. They are close to my heart and gave me a great foundation for teaching.”

Teaching is one of Pasik-Duncan’s greatest passions. “I call my students my angels. No matter what obstacle I’m dealing with, when I interact with smart and creative students, I don’t know how you could ever think anything negative.”

Inspiring women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math is a lifelong dedication for Pasik-Duncan. She co-founded the Women in Control group within the Institute of Electronical and Electronics Engineers Control Systems Society, chaired the Women in Engineering group of 20,000 global members and speaks internationally to engage women in STEM fields. She also mentors K-12 teachers, has been recognized by the Association for Women in Mathematics and was selected as one of the first KU Women of Distinction in 2004.

Pasik-Duncan proclaims her love for KU everywhere she goes and calls herself the university’s best ambassador. “I always say KU is the best place to study. The graduate students I supervise finish with four, five or six degrees. Where else on Earth do you have that kind of opportunity? I didn’t. I wish I had, so I am such an incredible advocate for KU.”

Being a Chancellors Club Professor, an honor made possible by KU donors, has given her new opportunities. “The university is part of me. I cannot use even Polish words to express my gratitude for that award because my life became richer with the added research and professorship.”

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