## Department of Mathematics

# Meet our students

Our students have different research interests and follow varied and exciting career paths after graduation. Meet some of our current students and graduates and find out their hopes for the future.

## Antoine Nectoux

Antoine Nectoux is from Dijon, France. He is studying for his PhD in Mathematics at the University of Auckland.

"What I like about studying at the University of Auckland is it's a very pleasant place to study, the Maths department in particular. We get a lot of support from the department."

## Nur Izzati Hamdan

Nur Izzati Hamdan is from Malaysia and is studying for her Masters degree in Applied Mathematics at the University of Auckland. She also completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics with Honours at the University.

"Alot of people ask me why I keep on choosing to stay at the same University..."

## Jennifer Huang

When I started my degree, I was aspiring for a career in the finance sector. I chose maths as one of my majors purely based on interest. I found it exciting and fascinating, but I was convinced that it wouldn’t be very useful, and it was kept on purely as an “interest” subject.

However, I was proven wrong. Having a solid maths background means the quantitative materials covered in my commerce degree become rather simple and intuitive. Formula sheets are redundant for me since most of these very complicated formulae can be derived with some easy algebra. This also allowed me to adjust formulae depending on the situation, which is not taught in those papers. The logic and reasoning skills I gained from maths has also been tremendously useful, since they allow me to understand the material as the lecturer is going through it in class, so I don’t need to cram right before exams.

Looking back, choosing maths as one of my majors was probably the best decision I made in my university career. Not only is it intriguing, it also offers a lot of versatility for a future career that most other majors don’t offer, and best of all, most of the people I came across in the maths department are very down to earth and helpful and the lecturers are always there when I need extra assistance.

My goal has changed significantly throughout my degree. I now want to go into research, but haven’t made up my mind what area I want to research yet. I’m doing honours in maths next year, as it will give me flexibility while I’m trying to make up my mind. Honours in maths will allow me to continue in maths, stats or economics to name just a few, and this gives me the buffer I need before deciding what I really want to do for the rest of my life!

## Ruanui Nicholson

It was never my intention when coming to The University of Auckland to do much study in the field of mathematics. However, after taking two first year math papers I found myself wanting to delve deeper into the subject. My attraction to, and curiosity of math has steadily grown with each course I have taken. An interesting note I might add is that the more mathematics I learn and study the more I realise how much more math there is to be acquainted with, and how much richer and applicable the subject really is.

I am currently doing a dissertation in graph theory, in which I am interested in finding the largest planar graph that has everywhere-positive combinatorial curvature, but is not a prism or antiprism. At the same time I am learning mathematically what happens when a dam holding water spontaneously and instantaneously breaks, equations governing the Severn Bore, and exploring the Korteweg-de Vries (KDV) equation.

## Ilya Chevyrev

From my earliest childhood, I remember my father asking me curious logical puzzles about situations with people who lie, tell the truth, wear different coloured hats and so forth. Even though most of us have seen problems like this before, at the time I found them absolutely fascinating and I remember how that sparked off an interest in me for everything that needed logical and deductive thought, in particular for mathematics. This passion stayed with me all the way through high school, however it was not until I actually entered university that I finally decided to concentrate on the subject. My passion for it has only grown and matured during my university studies and despite the fact that when I started I did not know where it would ultimately lead me, I knew that a career related to mathematics was what I wished to pursue.

I have now begun my honours in Mathematics with a current focus on lattices and their applications to number theory and cryptography. Ever since first encountering it, I found this area of mathematics both very interesting and rather amazing in its wide range of uses. In my eyes, this field holds an extremely elegant blend of pure and applied mathematics with a surprising ability to benefit many seemingly unrelated industries. I hope one day to conduct my own research in this field and use the skills and knowledge I acquired during my studies at university to shed more light upon the subject.

## Noor Aishikin Adam

Growing up in multicultural Malaysia, I have always been interested in the distinctive ways that people are defined by their cultural knowledge. Thus, when I decided to pursue a doctoral degree three years ago, I knew that I wanted to venture into an area that is cultural in nature and yet is still relevant to my mathematical background. I decided on ethnomathematics because not only does it concern the anthropological nature of mathematics, this interdisciplinary field also integrates aspects of education, history and philosophy. I was fascinated by the richness of this field. I felt that ethnomathematics is the right medium for me to use my mathematical background to study and appreciate the knowledge that exists in the cultural practices of my Malay culture, and to incorporate that knowledge in the mathematics classroom, where possible.

Thus began my journey studying the practice of food cover weaving by the Malay weavers. In my research, I make use of the weavers’ knowledge to investigate an ethnomathematical methodology. It has been an exciting experience and I have learned many things, such as the need to acknowledge the views and opinions of the cultural practitioners in order to understand the implications of the research on their practice. I also learned that hidden mathematical ideas can be uncovered through interactions between the conventions of the practitioners and the conceptions of mathematicians.

My hope is that I can go deeper into this field after I complete my PhD and explore other pertinent areas to highlight the relationship between culture and mathematics.

## Edoardo Persichetti

When I first approached university I wasn’t quite sure of what I was going to do: I was just a high school kid with some very good grades in maths and a passion for logic and reasoning. So I chose maths.

And I must say, maths is nothing like you expect. Rarely could you find anything more stimulating and interesting, and I discovered that maths is not about some boring calculations and formulas to memorize, but is about using your mind. I kept building my path bit by bit, brick after brick, just as you would do when solving a maths problem.

I got my Bachelor degree in Italy, and after graduating, I went straight through to my masters, where I focused mainly on algebra and theoretical computer science, taking classes in amazing subjects like logic, coding theory and cryptography.

Five years of university is a heavy burden for anyone, so I felt like taking my chances in the “world of work”. I worked for a worldwide renowned consulting firm and though I was having a brilliant career, I really missed the challenges that studying maths gave me.

So after two years and some careful decisions, I quit and flew to New Zealand to enrol in my PhD programme. I am currently doing research in cryptography, which is a very real and exciting topic, and in the mean time I keep myself busy with some extra tutoring and teaching work, which I enjoy very much, and am now looking forward to a successful academic career.

## Emily Harvey

When I finished high school I had no clear idea of what I wanted to do. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science conjoint degree to give me the flexibility to learn about a range of different subjects. Being interested in how things work, by final year I had whittled my majors down to Applied Maths, Physics and Psychology.

I chose to continue my studies by doing an honours degree in Applied Maths and then continued on to PhD. My research involves applying very recently developed mathematical techniques to investigate how the cells in our body work. Specifically we are looking at how the concentration of calcium in certain cells is controlled, and how this controls cellular functions like muscle contraction or saliva secretion.

The field of mathematical physiology is relatively new, and is exciting as it has the ability to extend our knowledge of the physiological systems studied. It also illuminates new questions and challenges that then lead us to extend and develop the mathematics used to analyse them.

During my PhD I have collaborated with international leaders in my field and travelled to international conferences where I presented my work to an audience of world experts, sometimes including the authors of my mathematics textbooks.

After my PhD I plan to apply the mathematical tools I have developed during my degrees to continue doing research. Whilst the challenges and questions in physiology, and biology in general, have struck a chord for now, there are vast numbers of important real world problems in other fields that mathematics can help to solve as well. So who knows where I will end up...