Te Tari Pāngarau me te Tatauranga
Department of Mathematics & Statistics

Recent News

Contestants wanted!

Interested in a mathematical challenge? Interested in some serious prize money? We are looking for students to compete in the Simon Marais Mathematics Competition on October 7. Students can compete individually or in pairs. Contact your local Otago coordinators for more information and for registering (before 30 September): David Bryant, Joerg Hennig or Matt Parry.

September 2017

Welcome Prof Philippe LeFloch (William Evans Fellow)

Welcome to Prof Philippe LeFloch who is visiting the department for three weeks in September 2017. Philippe, whose home institution is the Laboratoire Jacques-Louis Lions at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, is a Director of Research at CNRS and now a William Evans Fellow of the University of Otago. He is a world renowned expert on partial differential equations, in particular, on non-linear wave equations and their numerical discretisations. He is also well-known for his contributions to mathematical relativity. He has been collaborating with Florian Beyer from the Otago Relativity Group for a couple of years. During his visit, Philippe will give a public talk and a colloquium, see here for the details. In order to find out more on Philippe’s activities and current research, see his webpage.

September 2017

Updated: Symposium for John Harraway

The symposium for John Harraway brought together statisticians and researchers from Otago and other parts of New Zealand, with special guest Helen MacGillivray coming from Australia. There were a number of thought-provoking talks as well as more personal reflections, plus a large number of tributes from people overseas unable to be there.

The Otago Daily Times ran an article about the symposium and had interviews with Helen MacGillivray and Len Cook.

The Otago Bulletin also had a preview of the event.

The earlier announcement: A one-day symposium is being held on September 1 to celebrate John Harraway's contributions to statistics in New Zealand and around the world. Invited speakers include Professor Helen MacGillivray, President of the International Statistical Institute, and Len Cook, Families Commissioner and former National Statistician of the UK. The event organized by the Box Plot network of Otago statisticians is free to attend but registration is required. More details can be found here.

August 2017

Mathematics in Industry

Graduate and undergraduate students in mathematics might find the article What Characteristics Make Mathematicians Suited for Industry useful. While the context is American, many of the observations apply for students working within NZ, where the adjustment is perhaps even more difficult.

August 2017

Karl Schwarzschild Prize

Vee Liem Saw has been awarded the Karl Schwarzschild Prize for the best overall contributed talk at the 3rd Karl Schwarzschild Meeting in Frankfurt, Germany. This is a remarkable achievement for a PhD student. Vee Liem spoke about mass loss due to gravitational waves in the presence of a positive cosmological constant.

July 2017

John Clark

The Department is deeply saddened to report the recent death on July 15 of Associate Professor John Clark. John was a long serving member of the Department having been appointed in 1970 and having retired in 2013.

Read more

July 2017

Maryam Mirzakhani, Fields medalist, dies at 40

Maryam Mirzakhani, the world’s first woman to win the Fields Medal, passed away on July 15 after a four-year battle with breast cancer. She was only 40. See here or here for information about her life and work.

Image credit:By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,

July 2017

Early Career Research Awards

The outstanding work of Ting Wang and Tilman Davies has seen them both receive Early Career Research awards from the University of Otago. Congratulations to both!

July 2017

Welcome to Melissa Tacy

We are thrilled to welcome Melissa Tacy to the Department as a Lecturer in Mathematics. Melissa's research lies within the intersection of microlocal analysis, semiclassical analysis and harmonic analysis, and is particularly focused on quantum chaos. Most recently, Melissa was at the Mathematical Sciences Institute at the Australian National University.

July 2017

Lenette's retirement

Congratulations to Lenette Grant on her retirement. Lenette first started working for the University in 1964! She will be sorely missed by us all.

June 2017

Top referee

Boris Baeumer has received a citation for Excellence in Refereeing by Water Resources Research, the top journal in hydrology.

June 2017

Desmond Sawyer

The Department is saddened to note the passing of Desmond Sawyer, a former Chair of the Department, on 29 April.

Desmond served Otago well over three periods. He first arrived in Dunedin in 1948, after graduating MA from Cambridge in 1947 and winning the very prestigious Adams Prize the same year. As lecturer he joined three other members of staff in running a large number of courses with an obvious heavy teaching load and little time for research.

In 1952 he moved to University College of the Gold Coast (now Ghana) for two years of very productive research in convexity and the geometry of numbers, before coming back to Otago, gaining a Readership and shortly after the Chair of the Department at the age of 33.

After increasing involvement in administrative matters, Desmond resigned in 1964 to move to the new University of Waikato as Professor of Mathematics and Assistant Vice-Chancellor.

Finally Desmond returned to Dunedin in 1970, now as Professor of Pure Mathematics and Chair of the Department. He oversaw a rapid expansion of both student and staff numbers, and successfully met the challenges that this entailed while still maintaining a full teaching load.

Desmond retired in 1984.

May 2017

National maths competition a family affair

A story on the bulletin board outlines the good work of Warren and Chris Palmer putting together the Junior Maths Competition.

May 2017

He Kitenga 2016

The latest He Kitenga, the University's research highlights magazine, has an article about the Otago Relativity Group (Florian Beyer, Joerg Frauendiener and Joerg Hennig) in the light of the recent experimental discovery of gravitational waves.

February 2017

Editors' pick

A paper by Jorg Frauendiener in the 15 January 2017 issue of Physical Review D has been highlighted as an editors' suggested read. The paper discusses how to handle spatial infinity during the evolution of linearized gravitational field from past to future null infinity. Physical Review D is one of the top-ranked journals in particle physics, gravitation and cosmology.

January 2017

NZMS Research Award

Congratulations to David Bryant for being joint winner of the national NZMS Research Award. David received the award "for work developing mathematical, statistical and computational tools for evolutionary biology, and work drawing on evolutionary biology to develop new theories in mathematics". The annual award was instituted in 1990 to foster mathematical research in New Zealand and to recognise excellence in research carried out by New Zealand mathematicians.

December 2016

Postgraduate conference

The NZ Maths & Stats Postgraduate conference was held in Queenstown from November 21-23. This year it was organised by students from our Department. It was a hugely enjoyable experience for those involved. Thanks to the contributors for stimulating talks and discussions, and special thanks to the organisers Paula Bran, Chuen Yen Hong, Jerome Cao, Vee Liem Saw and Johannes Mosig. Chuen Yen also won the prize for the best Statistics talk. Photo: Some of the Otago contingent at NZMASP 2016.

November 2016

Richard Barker appointed Sciences PVC

Congratulations to Prof. Richard Barker on recently being appointed the next Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Division of Sciences. Richard was the Head of Department from 2008 to early 2016 and will lead the division from 2017.

October 2016

Tilman Davies in profile

Lecturer Tilman Davies has just been profiled for the University of Otago website. Might be time to update the departmental photo, Tilman!

September 2016