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Why We Give: Cheryl Slusarchuk & NumerixSQuant

As a young child, Cheryl Slusarchuk often visited her father’s laboratory as he completed his PhD in civil engineering with a focus on permafrost.

Her memories of her father's time at Rutgers University in New York are vivid: the smell of the core samples from the earth, playing with the computer punch cards he used to run early programs. From that lab, she watched Apollo land on the moon on a small black & white TV as people around her celebrated.

Her mother, a Montessori teacher, engaged Cheryl in early preschool education, setting up reading challenges designed to spark an interest problem-solving.

“It was a very unique and curiosity-rich experience that is not available to everyone,” Cheryl recalls from her home today in Vancouver.

Since that time a lot has changed. Technology has embedded in all industries and careers and Cheryl is CEO of NumerixSQuant, an investment company that builds quantitative trading strategies grounded in science and driven by technology.

Once again, Cheryl feels lucky to find herself in this curiosity-rich environment. 

NumerixSQuant has a rigourous recruitment process, and Cheryl believes she works with some of the brightest mathematical and quantitative minds — known in her industry as “quants,” short for quantitative analysts or more recently also known as “data scientists.”    

She likens her workplace to a post-doc math and physics research lab at a university, with shorter research cycles that result in applied strategies. If, after an initial project, a line of research does not look promising, the data scientists can decide not to pursue it.

“We are not beholden to grants or other requirements that can prolong research past the point of being interesting.”

For Cheryl and the people she works with, the research is still "interesting" when it’s working to solve a problem.

“My colleagues are all exceptional people with unique combinations of pure intellectual horsepower and some degree of practical sense. But what they have in common is a commitment to excellence and understanding. We don’t accept ‘black box’ answers that can’t be explained or understood.”

The future Cheryl imagines expands beyond the analysis that takes place at the workplace in their offices in downtown Vancouver. She believes that critical thinking and using science for exploration should be accessible to all.

In hoping to fulfill this vision with an organization with like-minded values, she looked to Science World. “It’s a place that helps people understand complex problems without becoming overwhelmed.”

As Vice Chair of Science World’s Board of Directors since 2015, Cheryl has helped champion one of the organization’s core values of developing scientific literacy within a generation by supporting programs like Future Science Leaders and bursaries for a variety of communities across the Lower Mainland.

“Kids who are born into middle-class families have many more opportunities for both their talents and their desire for challenges,” explains Cheryl. “Supporting a bursary program amounts to a kind of social justice.”

While much of Science World’s wonder happens inside our dome, Cheryl lauds our recent online programming and virtual exhibits as the inevitable wave of the future.

Though this pace of change is unprecedented, the ability to navigate through a rapidly evolving world takes the very kind of skillset rooted in the scientific process and problem-solving strategies.

In the midst of a pandemic, graduating students report feeling uncertain about their future. They need support to face these new challenges.

“And if you don’t build at the grassroots level—both making sure you have breadth of accessibility and high-end engagement for the kids that want and need it—you’re not really serving your community.”

Science is Essential.

Science World serves the future generations of scientists and science enthusiasts in BC. The solutions to the biggest challenges we face will come from science. Donate today and help us continue our mission to increase science literacy across the province for everyone.