Tara grew up with a deep love for literature and art, and never imagined that she would become a research mathematician. Mathematics was always a subject that she excelled in, but she did not appreciate its beauty and creativity until much later. Tara grew up in Winnipeg, in a home that greatly valued lifelong learning.
She pursued a bachelor’s degree in science at The University of Winnipeg. Her initial plan was to major in chemistry and then go on to medicine. By her second year, she shifted gears and decided to major in physics and mathematics. It was her second year linear algebra, with the first exposure to real abstract mathematics, which first made her value mathematics as a subject on its own. By her final year, she had completely fallen in love with the beauty of abstract mathematics. She graduated with a BSc in 1996.
Although Tara loved mathematics, she wasn’t sure that she wanted to go on to graduate school, so she traveled for a year. This travel included working on organic farms in Ireland. Following this adventurous year, she worked in a group home for adults with mental disabilities. This work was rewarding, but helped her realize that she did want to learn more mathematics. She decided to go to graduate school but had to wait another year due to the birth of her first daughter in November 1998.
In 2000, Tara completed a Master of Science in mathematics, with a thesis on cosmology, from Dalhousie University in Halifax. Tara stayed at Dalhousie for her PhD, but switched research areas to topology. Her doctoral thesis “Computational Topology and Fractal Trees” was successfully defended in 2005.
Tara has been able to incorporate her love of art into her mathematics research through various collaborations, particularly with Eva Knoll.