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Bozenna Pasik-Duncan

Bozenna Pasik-Duncan (b. 1947)

Polish mathematician, expert in stochastic control and a champion for women in engineering

Affiliation: University of Kansas


"Mathematics is 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."


Bozenna Pasik-Duncan is a Polish mathematician who is an expert in stochastic adaptive control, using probability and the theory of randomness to predict outcomes. She is passionate about promoting women in science and has won several prestigious awards for her efforts as a teacher.


A champion for women in engineering and a devoted teacher

Bozenna Pasik-Duncan is renowned for her passionate approach to mathematical education and for promoting women in STEM fields (i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths). She co-founded the Women in Control group within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Control Systems Society and has chaired the Women in Engineering group of 20 000 global members. In 2018, she was selected as chair for a second term. Bozenna Pasik-Duncan has also been the chair of the International Federation of Automatic Control's (IFAC) task force on diversity and inclusion.

Bozenna Pasik-Duncan has given numerous talks internationally to engage women in STEM fields. Through programs and activities, she supported and encouraged girls and women in mathematics and engineering. She has also initiated in-service training of middle and high-school teachers in math and science to introduce them to the subject of control. Bozenna Pasik-Duncan strongly focuses on building confidence in her students, which she believes is critical to success in mathematics, especially for women.

Applies stochastic adaptive control in all kinds of systems

Bozenna Pasik-Duncan's research interest is in various aspects of stochastic adaptive control, and its applications. Stochastic adaptive control is the control of an unknown system subject to unknown random perturbations. In everyday language, to adapt means to change a behavior to conform to new circumstances. Intuitively, an adaptive controller is thus a controller that can modify its behavior in response to changes in the dynamics of the process and the character of the disturbances. Most physical systems are not entirely known and often contain random and unknown perturbations. Thus, they require stochastic adaptive control to meet the system's performance criteria.

Bozenna Pasik-Duncan has worked hard to apply the theory of stochastic adaptive control in various fields where it can be helpful – aerospace guidance and control, signal processing and communications, manufacturing processes, financial economics, and health science. She has compared the classroom with students and their instructors to a stochastic system since there is a lot of randomness there. Too many unknowns in the system make the system unknown, so learning or identifying the system is critical. The challenge for the instructor is thus to learn about students by collecting relevant course information about them. Her efforts in applying the theory of stochastic adaptive control to different fields have resulted in her holding professorships in three different academic disciplines.

Bozenna Pasik-Duncan thinks researchers within automatic control must expand outreach and education efforts to advance the discipline. She believes integrating interdisciplinary research, teaching, learning, and outreach at all levels of education is the key to success and that every student should experience research that bridges mathematics with different fields.

Background and life

Becoming an academic ambassador

Bozenna Pasik-Duncan was born in Poland in 1947. She attended high school in Radom and then studied mathematics at the University of Warsaw. After receiving her degree in 1970, she continued studying at the Warsaw School of Economics. In 1978, she received her PhD. Bozenna Pasik-Duncan remained at the Warsaw School of Economics until 1984, when she transferred to the mathematics department at the University of Kansas, USA. She currently holds the positions of Professor of Mathematics, Courtesy Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Courtesy Professor of Aerospace Engineering.

Despite having been a visiting scholar at numerous universities worldwide, she has stayed true to the University of Kansas. She calls herself "the University's best ambassador". When becoming a Chancellors Club Professor (awarded to persons who have demonstrated outstanding teaching for years), she told the faculty reporter: "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." She believes that her education in mathematics gave her a great foundation. A foundation to address and solve challenges that help her deal with professional life and everyday life.

Bozenna Pasik-Duncan is married to mathematician Tyrone Duncan. She has a daughter, Dominique Duncan. Apart from mathematics, she loves music and art.

Central positions within the most prominent engineering organizations

Bozenna Pasik-Duncan is active in both IEEE and IFAC and has held many offices within these organisations. In 2001, she became a fellow of the IEEE. There, she has, among other things, served as deputy chair of the IEEE Control Systems Society's Technical Committee on Control Education and as an associate editor of IEEE Transactions of Automatic Control. She currently serves on the Board of Governors for the IEEE Society for Social Implications of Technology and as Chair of the Outreach Sub-Committee of IEEE Women in Engineering.

In 2014, she became a fellow of IFAC. Apart from being the chair of the IFAC Technical Committee on Control Education, she has also participated in the IFAC Technical Board as the Education Liaison to all IFAC Technical Committees.

She is also the past Program Director of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).

Honors and awards

Bozenna Pasik-Duncan has received numerous awards for her efforts as a teacher and for encouraging, supporting, and promoting women in STEM fields. She is a recipient of the Kemper Fellowship for "Teaching Excellence and Advising in Public Outreach" and the G. Baley Price Award for "Excellence in Teaching". In 2000, she received the IEEE's Third Millennium Medal. She was the 2004 AWM/MAA Falconer Lecturer and the 2004 winner of the Louise Hay Award for contributions to mathematics education of the Association for Women in Mathematics. She has also received the IEEE Control Systems Society Distinguished Member Award and the IFAC Outstanding Service Award for her many years of service to IEEE and IFAC in senior positions. Furthermore, she received the IFAC Control Education Life Time Achievement Award for her influence on the control community promoting the interests of young people, active support of women in control, outreach to pre-college STEM students worldwide and for numerous activities raising the profile of control education in IFAC.