Student Profiles

Undergraduate

Dorothy Cheung

Dorothy Cheung

Degree: Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics)/Commerce - Honours in Pure Mathematics

I chose to study mathematics at UNSW because it has a wide range of applications and I was keen to learn more at a higher level in university. I also felt that studying mathematics could lead to diverse career paths, from research to the financial industry to climate science.

Studying mathematics at UNSW was a great experience - not only did I gain knowledge on broad areas of mathematics, I met people who share similar interests. Higher level courses were especially interesting, with a wider range of courses available. I was also able to pick and choose courses according to my own interests. Classes were smaller and became more interactive which allows ideas to be bounced around. 

I am currently working as an Actuarial Analyst at Suncorp. Mathematical concepts that I learnt at university appear unexpectedly at work, and having a solid understanding of them from my time at UNSW is invaluable. Although not everything you learn in university will come in use directly at work, the ways I learnt to approach issues and how to tackle problems methodically are the most important skills I have gained.


 

 

Jessica Egan

Degree: Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics) - Honours in Pure Mathematics

I never intended to study mathematics at university, but without a doubt, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I wanted to be on the frontier making breakthrough discoveries at the very forefront of modern science. I thought I had to be studying nanotechnology, biotechnology or computer science. I never dreamed of the myriad of possibilities that mathematics offers, both academically and in the outside world.

In my first few years of studying mathematics at UNSW the classes were huge. I enjoyed the company of not only potential mathematicians, but also potential physicists, engineers and computer scientists, among others. They all needed mathematics in the beginning. It didn’t take too long for me to realise that I didn’t just need to study mathematics; I wanted to. In later years, the classes shrunk and I developed a strong relationship with a small group of mathematically minded people.

The study of mathematics is so very diverse. A single problem can be challenging, inspiring, humbling, uplifting and fun; all at the same time. I majored in Pure Mathematics, but studied a few applied and statistical subjects as well. On the side, I filled my electives with computing subjects. I loved how interrelated it all was – how my study in one subject enriched my understanding of another.

I had the privilege to represent UNSW in the COMAP Mathematical Modelling Contest - twice. The contest is a four day intensive international competition where you are given a real world problem and work in teams to solve it. At the end of the four days you submit a report. It was a great opportunity to hone my skills not only at mathematical modelling, but also in writing up reports expressing mathematical conclusions. UNSW also offers vacation scholarships that are the perfect preparation for an Honours project.

I now work as an Actuarial Analyst at Taylor Fry Consulting Actuaries in Sydney CBD, and I am an Associate member of the Institute of Actuaries Australia. I’m excited to have found a niche of mathematically minded people in the workforce, as I did at UNSW. Perhaps later I’ll return to more academic pursuits. That’s one of the beauties of mathematics – you can do just about anything with it.

Mimi Greenbaum

Miriam Greenbaum

Degree: Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics)/Commerce - Honours in Applied Mathematics

During high school, all of my fellow students knew what they wanted to do at university. I thought this would come naturally, however it got to the end of year 12 and I still had no idea. Math was my favourite subject at school, and had been my entire life, so I decided to study mathematics and combine it in a double degree with commerce. It is by far the best decision I have made to date! 

In the earlier years of my degree, I was exposed to a broad range of mathematical concepts, drawing on things only touched upon in high school. In the upper years, I was then able to choose which part of math really interested me and hone in on my skills by completing focused subjects in the area. The small classes and dedicated time with the academics meant that I was always able to achieve a deeper level of understanding, even with the trickier concepts. 

Completing my Honours in mathematics gave me the opportunity to really delve deep into a topic that I was passionate about. After reaching out to an industry contact, I was able to obtain a data set and choose my own Honours topic, 'Using Random Forests to predict loan default'. Throughout the thesis year, I received amazing support from my supervisor, who always had time to sit with me and nut out any tricky problems along the way. The logic and problem-solving skills I acquired throughout my degree gave me the ability to begin in whatever role I wanted after graduating, and I chose to begin as a Management Consultant at Ernst & Young. 

 

 

Anthony Morris 

Degree: Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics) - Honours in Pure Mathematics

My first reason for choosing to study mathematics at UNSW was because of the quality and diversity of the faculty, which is one of the largest and most respected in Australia. This has given me the opportunity to study mathematics at a very high level over a broad range of fields. Secondly, a mathematics degree at UNSW has given me a lot of flexibility with what I have wanted to study. This allowed me to extend myself with higher levels of mathematics, as well as to study courses outside of mathematics which I have found interesting.

The quality and flexibility of the degree has meant that I have had a diverse range of opportunities available to me as I near the completion of my degree. I personally considered options ranging from corporate careers in finance or management consulting to further postgraduate study in mathematics, before choosing a technical role in software engineering at Google.

Chin Pin Wong

Degree: Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics) - Honours in Pure Mathematics

One of my first memories of studying mathematics at UNSW was of my first year Algebra lecturer raving about the beauty of the formula eπi=-1. That incident was my first time witnessing such passion about a simple formula and I was both amazed and slightly alarmed at it. It soon became apparent that this passion for mathematics was an integral part of life at the School of Mathematics and Statistics at UNSW. In fact, after four years at the School, I see that this enthusiasm for mathematics certainly enriched my experiences as a student, not only because it was contagious, but also because it showed me that mathematics could be both fun and intriguing.

I completed a BSc (Advanced Mathematics) with a major in Pure Mathematics in 2010. One of my original motivations for choosing UNSW was the availability of this program, which allowed students to concentrate on a single major. However, the program was also structured so that students had enough flexibility to study in areas outside their major through elective subjects. During my four years, I took courses in areas as diverse as economics, arts and science. I also had the opportunity to dabble in areas of applied mathematics such as operations research and dynamical systems. These courses broadened my understanding of mathematics and gave a glimpse of how theory could be put into practice.

I enjoyed my four years as a student in the School of Mathematics and Statistics. My lecturers and tutors were always helpful and supportive. The small number of students in pure mathematics produced a tight-knit community to work within. The School also offered opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities such as vacation research, funded by scholarships from UNSW and the Australian Mathematical Science Institute, inter-university competitions, and even a chance to play a role in encouraging women to pursue mathematics through the ‘Girls do the Math’ program run by the School.

Looking back, I can only conclude that my time as a student at the School of Mathematics and Statistics was both a valuable and memorable experience. 

Wei Wu

Degree: Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics) - Honours in Quantitative Risk

My name is Wei Wu. About a decade ago, right after I completed my HSC in a small town on the mid-north coast of NSW, I chose to study mathematics at UNSW. My long, but interesting, journey at UNSW started from then.

The first stage of this journey was my undergraduate study, more precisely the Advanced Mathematics degree with a Quantitative Risk major. My passion in numbers lead me to undertake a maths degree at university, and the reason that I chose UNSW is because of its good reputation in both teaching and research. Especially, this relatively new program, Quantitative Risk, attracted my attention. This program provides a very good path for people who are interested in the theory of risk and its application in quantitative finance and actuarial studies.

After I completed my Bachelor degree, I was on a fork of the road: to continue my study or to work in the industry. Eventually, I decided to undertake a research degree and again I chose UNSW. My journey at UNSW continued to the second stage. There are many reasons why I wanted to stay at UNSW, and perhaps, the most important one is the good teaching quality that I had experienced while I was taking my undergraduate study.

Now, I am at the third stage of my journey, working as a Research Associate in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at UNSW. In one day, I may have to leave UNSW, but those learning and working experiences will definitely be a valuable asset for my future career and will also be an unforgettable memory of my life. 

Postgraduate Coursework

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ron Elazar     

Degree: Master of Financial Maths; Graduate Diploma in Statistics

I studied a Master of Science in Financial Mathematics at UNSW. I selected the program which was new at the time due to the high standing reputation of the academic staff heading the program.

The first year of my studies in the program proved to be a pivotal one for the global economy with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the escalation of the Global Financial Crisis. It was at this point that I realised I wanted to delve deeper into how this crisis came about. I decided to specialise in financial risk management, and chose to examine credit risk models as the topic of my research project. At the same time, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to gain some hands-on part time work experience at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in the area of credit portfolios and modelling.

Towards the completion of the Masters of Financial Mathematics program I realised I needed to enhance my technical knowledge in statistics. I then decided to undertake further study with a Graduate Diploma in Statistics to complement my existing knowledge. I pursued this additional diploma while continuing my part time work at Commonwealth Bank, strengthening my foundation of knowledge in statistics and applying it in the real world at the same time.

Upon completing the program I received and accepted an offer for a full time role as a Quantitative Analyst at Westpac Banking Corporation where I currently work in the field of credit portfolio modelling and analysis.

Apart from the excellent level of academic training I received, the staff, academic and administrative alike, were always very helpful and friendly. Studying at the School of Mathematics and Statistics at UNSW has granted me fantastic opportunities, professionally and personally. It has been a period of my life I will always look back on with a great sense of fondness.

Abhijit Hore

Degree: Bachelor of Commerce (Finance)/Bachelor of Science (Mathematics & Statistics)

 

My name is Abhijit Hore and I am a former postgraduate student from the School of Mathematics and Statistics at UNSW. I began my tertiary studies in 2002, choosing a combined degree in Science and Commerce, majoring in Mathematics, Statistics and Finance respectively. I continued along the same theme in my postgraduate program, where I completed a Masters in Financial Mathematics in 2009.

The primary reason I pursued mathematics is because it encourages one to inquire, and is one of the few subjects that can really train one to continue developing their logic and reasoning skills to a very advanced level, provided one is prepared to put in the commitment, of course. As a result of studying mathematics, one also acquires an abundant amount of skills and knowledge that can be transferred across many industries, making employment choices very flexible upon graduation.

The parts of the course I specifically enjoyed the most were when I undertook two thesis projects in 2005 and 2008. I had the choice of choosing the topics of my liking and the journey from research to model derivations and computational implementation for each paper were extremely fascinating as well as rewarding.

Currently I am working on Basel II Risk Capital Modelling for a major financial institution in Sydney, where I am still applying a lot of the advanced mathematical skills I acquired at the University (as well as learning new techniques beyond my university studies) in deriving solutions to optimise the amount of capital the bank needs to hold for certain portfolios.

To this day I am very grateful for the opportunity and support the staff faculty had provided me during my studies. I strongly recommend anyone pursuing tertiary studies to definitely consider undertaking Mathematics and Statistics at UNSW. 

Postgraduate Research

 

 

 

 

 

Kylie-Anne Richards

Degree: PhD

I worked in banking for over six years with my final position as Head of Financial Engineering at Macquarie Bank, based in Hong Kong. I chose to return to study, undertaking a PhD in Statistics at UNSW to further enhance my research and technical skills, and to explore some ideas I had developed throughout my working career.

UNSW was my first choice of university primarily due to the high calibre of academic staff and the specialised skills which saw the overlap of statistical methods and financial applications utilising high frequency data. Within the first year of my PhD, I've found my studies to be suitably challenging, with a supportive and collaborative learning environment. My supervisors have gone to extraordinary lengths to organise an industry sponsor in the form of a hedge fund trading in an area closely related to my research interests. They've ensured that throughout the year I've had the technology and data to support my project. They've hand picked courses from the Master of Statistics course to enhance my learning in areas I was otherwise weak in. And finally, the expertise of both of my supervisors has shaped the direction of the PhD well beyond my initial ideas and expectations. All of this has been invaluable in ensuring I am in a position to make the most out of my study and an affirmation of my choice of university.

 Peter Straka

Peter Straka

Degree: PhD

Maths has always fascinated me, and I decided to pursue a PhD in mathematics when I was an undergraduate student in Germany. Aside from my German degree (Diplom) I have studied for a Master of Arts degree in mathematics during an exchange year in Los Angeles.

In choosing the university at which I was going to apply for a PhD degree, I took into account the quality of research of my potential supervisor, my interest in it, and also a good international standing of the university. UNSW met all these requirements, and on top of that I was funded by a scholarship which made it possible for me to devote my entire focus to research. Such programs are, globally speaking, very rare, and I could not believe my luck. Although it was not required by the program, I happily taught several first and second year tutorials, to gain some teaching experience and to earn some extra money. UNSW also provides funding for PhD students to present their research at international conferences, which made it possible for me to attend a conference in Osaka and a probability theory summer school in Vancouver. This was certainly a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to network with fellow peers and professors in my field.

In the course of the program, there are many opportunities for PhD students to broaden their horizons by doing some extra work outside their research fields, and I know several colleagues who have worked as research assistants in computational biology or as interns which were commissioned through the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute. I also worked as a research assistant at the Australian School of Business.

After graduating in August 2011, I worked as a postdoc in Michigan and Manchester. Now I am back at the UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics as a lecturer in statistics, mainly researching probabilistic models for diffusion and waves in disordered media. All in all, the PhD degree from UNSW was a very pleasant experience which has prepared me very well for a career in research and teaching of mathematics.