Four of our students receive 2020 University Medals


Monday, 1st March 2021

We are proud to announce that four of our students have been awarded 2020 University Medals.

The University Medal is the most distinguished academic award to be bestowed on an undergraduate and is recognition by the University of outstanding achievement. Abirami Srikumar, Ray Li, Jackie Lok and Dominic Palanca were all awarded in the most recent round of medals.

Abirami Srikumar was recognised as a standout student throughout her Advanced Mathematics (Applied Maths)/Actuarial Studies program, having received other honours including two Dean’s List awards, a third-year Women in Mathematics and Statistics Prize, and an Honours Scholarship. She has just commenced a PhD at UNSW under the supervision of Professors Frances Kuo and Ian Sloan, focusing on Quasi-Monte Carlo Methods.

“Abi is a dedicated and conscientious student, and an absolute delight to work with”, said her Honours supervisor, Prof Frances Kuo. “She demonstrated an impressively high level of mathematical ability in all her coursework and in her research project. She produced the equivalent of two Honours theses in completely different directions. She deciphered very technical papers, expanded the details of proofs, and produced new numerical implementations.”

Alluding to her PhD, Prof Kuo said, “I have no doubt that Abi will thrive and have a very successful academic career.”

Ray Li, who completed an Advanced Maths (Pure Maths)/Computer Science degree, has also received a long list of prizes during his studies, including three Dean’s Awards.

Described as a “very talented young mathematician” by his Honours supervisor Professor Igor Shparlinski, Ray is now pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Cambridge and has been accepted into the PhD program at the University of Chicago.

“Ray has very high standards, which he applies to his research and study”, said Prof Shparlinski. “I am looking forward to learning about his new achievements, which I’m certain will come again soon.”

Jackie Lok undertook a Bachelor of Science (Pure Maths)/Actuarial Studies at UNSW, and will soon commence a PhD at The University of Melbourne. He said that it will be focused broadly in the area of probability.

Jackie has also been recognised several times for academic excellence via awards, including a Dean’s Award, Head of School’s Prize and a Science Honours Year Award.

His University Medal comes as no surprise to Honours supervisor Professor Catherine Greenhill, who was “extremely impressed by the amount of high-level material that Jackie absorbed during his Honours year, and the very clear explanations that he gave in his thesis”.

She said that Jackie displayed “a very high level of mathematical maturity and independence, finding papers on a topic that interested him - the cut-off phenomenon for Markov chains - and even figuring out how to streamline a proof contained in one of these papers. I learnt a lot while supervising his Honours project”.

Jackie is looking forward to his PhD, as he says it “entails the chance to do and learn a bit more maths for a while”.

Unsurprisingly, Dominic Palanca was also a highly awarded student during his Advanced Mathematics (Pure Maths)/Economics program. He received three Faculty of Science Dean’s List awards over consecutive years, plus a UNSW Business School Dean’s Award for academic excellence.

Honours supervisor Professor Norman Wildberger claims that while Dominic’s entire academic performance was outstanding, his Honours thesis “is surely a high point, as it reached a level of originality and power that in my view was unprecedented - and I’ve been at UNSW over 30 years!”

“He managed to apply a new notion of symmetrized algebras to the classical problem of understanding convolution structures of polynomials on the 3-sphere, utilizing along the way the Peter Weyl theory and the algebra of quaternions in an original manner”, said Prof Wildberger. “This tour de force is sure to be publishable, and I believe it will open up new directions for the representation theory of Lie groups and algebras”.

Dominic is now looking forward to commencing a graduate position as a trader.

Congratulations to Abirami, Ray, Jackie and Dominic for their phenomenal efforts!