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Spotlight on our staff and students

The School of Mathematics and Statistics at UNSW is a lively place with a diverse group of staff and students. Want to know more about them?

Here, we spotlight the staff and students of the School. What drew them towards mathematics and statistics? What attracted them to the School? Do they fit the stereotype of a mathematician or maths student?

Here, they reveal their adventures in mathematics and statistics…


Dr Zdravko Botev is a Lecturer in Statistics. What attracted him to his role in the School? Why does he enjoy teaching UNSW students? And why does the study of probability fascinate him? Find out here!

Dr Thomas Britz is a lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Statistics. In this interview, he reveals that he enjoys all aspects of his job, talks about some cool things that students have taught him, and discusses his research in Combinatorics.

Scientia Fellow Dr Chris Goodrich reveals what first drew him towards maths, some of the applications of his research, his hope that his forthcoming book will shake up calculus teaching, his passion for music, his love for his miniature dachshunds - and much more! 

Senior Lecturer Dr Clara Grazian reveals how she fell in love with statistics, what excites her about teaching, the things she misses about her hometown in Italy, and why she thinks UNSW is unique.

Growing up in a tiny village in Ireland, Dr Shane Keating's interest in maths was first sparked by games such as chess and cards. That initial spark has led to a career spanning three continents, fascinating research in mathematical oceanography, and a position as a lecturer in maths at UNSW.

Dr Libo Li is a young researcher and lecturer in the School who recently attracted an Early Career Research Grant. In his interview, he reveals his international upbringing, academic role models, and a very interesting hidden talent!

Dr Joanna Wang, whose interest in statistics evolved during the first year of uni, agrees with Google’s Chief Economist that stats is “sexy” because data is “EVERYWHERE”.
She's been collaborating on research into helmet safety, and says the mix of teaching and research is “exactly what I wanted”.

Lecturer Dr Jan Zika tells us what first ignited his interest in oceanography and climate science, reveals the current challenges of his research, divulges his academic role models, and shares some tips for travelling to his childhood stomping ground, Tasmania.


Advanced Mathematics student Daniel Altman is one to watch! He's started to amass quite a collection of prizes for his outstanding academic performance. In his interview, Daniel reveals what he likes about maths, the challenges of studying it, his interests away from uni, and more.

If you could wake up tomorrow and be any mathematician from any point in history, who would you want to be?
This is just one of the questions that Honours (Pure Maths) student Peter Ayre was subjected to in his interview. We get the scoop on his highlights – and challenges – of doing Honours, his plans for after uni, and why maths continues to engage and motivate him.

Honours (Adv Maths) student Michela Castagnone got her first taste of uni life as a high school student at our Girls Do the Maths workshop. She reveals what fascinates her about maths, the highlights of her studies at UNSW, and what she believes will help increase female participation in maths.

BCom/BSc (Advanced Mathematics) student, Dorothy Cheung, speaks about her experiences studying maths at UNSW, her Girls Do The Maths Scholarship, and her advice for young girls who are interested in mathematics.

Kathryn Dalton is our 2021 Data Science and Decisions Ambassador. She talks to us about her hobbies, what led her to study data science, her Ambassador experiences, and her tips for staying focused and happy during long stretches of online learning. 

Fifth-year Advanced Maths/Actuarial student James Gao is MathSoc's President for 2020. He opens up about his dream job, why he loves maths, and MathSoc's plans to help students stay connected in the COVID-19 era. 

Melinda Mortimer recently finished her Honours year in Statistics. She discusses her fascinating research which has applications to neuroscience, what led her to study maths & stats, the highlights of her studies, and her next move.  

BSc (Mathematics)/BEngineering student Varun Nayyar opens up about his transition from medicine to his current degree, his student exchange in California, his Faculty Research Scholarship, and his master plan for the future.

James Nichols speaks about his experiences as a postgrad research student in the School. We get him to spill on his role models, his PhD journey, what first enticed him to study maths, his interest in music, and his next move.

PhD student Sabarina Shafie reveals the interesting way she first got into maths, gives some pointers on travelling to her home country Malaysia, divulges her hobbies, and opens up about some of the challenging & rewarding aspects of postgrad study...

Abi Srikumar is a PhD student who recently finished up her Honours year with us. In her interview she compares her research experiences, reveals a relative's influence on her mathematical journey, discusses her strategies for online study, and shares highlights of her time at uni... and more! 

Final year Data Science and Decisions student Ellen Wang talks to us about DataSoc's upcoming plans, her dream job, why working with data is rewarding, and more! 

Fourth-year Bachelor of Advanced Maths / Computer Science student Alina Young talks to us about her favourite courses, balancing her uni demands with her hobbies, her experiences as a Science Ambassador, and more...

Alex Zhu tells us about his intriguing Statistics Honours research project, the collaborative team work of the past year, what first ignited his love for maths, his involvement with MathSoc, some future plans for his research and himself - and more!


Dr Byron Jacobs visited the School in early 2015. He opened up about his academic career in South Africa, his research on PDEs and image processing, the work he collaborated on at UNSW, and what kindled his interest in mathematics.

Thanom Shaw was our 2014 Visiting Teaching Fellow. The SCEGGS high school teacher says that spending that year immersed in studying and teaching university level maths at UNSW was a "dream come true" and a "professional development opportunity not so easy to come by".