School of Mathematics and Statistics Maths & Statistics Careers




Jennifer Slater

PhD student in Applied Maths
University of Melbourne
Graduated 2002

I am currently doing a PhD in Applied Mathematics, looking at Stochastically Evolvings Networks and their applications, particularly to biological phenomena. As well as reading background material, I am attempting to derive exact formulae to describe the growth of the networks in simple cases, and then using computer simulation to look at the results of more complicated cases.

We are planning to apply these models to areas like the spread of diseases and the growth and development of cell populations. The application of maths to biological and medical research is a growing area, and one that I find much more interesting and relevant than the more traditional physics-based applied maths problems. So far, the thing I have most enjoyed has been finally getting to the end of pages of calculations and ending up with a simple formula that matches with my simulation results. Also, I was able to attend a winter school in Mathematical Biology at the University of Queensland, and early next year I will travel to a conference in New Zealand to give a talk, along with most of the other applied maths graduate students.

I am using the skills I learned from almost every applied maths subject I did as an undergraduate. I needed a strong understanding of probability theory to form equations describing the behaviour of my networks and I use calculus to understand the equations thus derived. The computer programming and numerical techniques learned during my honours year are essential in my work. It is fascinating that the mathematical techniques learned as an undergraduate are so useful in understanding real-life problems.

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