Welcome to Darryl MacKenzie
After 17 years in the academic wilderness, we welcome Darryl MacKenzie back to the Department as a part-time Associate Professor in Statistics. Darryl completed his PhD (under Professor Richard Barker) in 2002 on methods to assess the fit of mark-recapture models. While studying for his PhD, Darryl worked at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (Maryland, USA) and became involved in the development of occupancy models for analysing presence/absence data with imperfect detection, which are now widely used in ecology. Since then, Darryl has run his own consulting company in New Zealand, Proteus, which specialises in the development and application of statistical methods to ecological problems. Often this amounts to figuring out how to make a square peg fit in a round hole! Darryl's main research interests are in the realm of population estimation (e.g., distance sampling, mark-recapture, occupancy modelling, population modelling) both in ecological, and non-ecological, settings.
Boris Daszuta, Exceptional PhD thesis
Congratulations to Boris Daszuta, whose thesis "Numerical scalar curvature deformation and a gluing construction" was chosen as a Division of Sciences Exceptional Doctoral Thesis.
Modelling phenomena in the universe at large scales involves numerical simulations based on the equations of general relativity. Initial conditions for a system are selected in order to predict its future. However, the choice of initial data is not arbitrary but must satisfy a set of non-linear constraint equations.
The principal item of Boris's research was development of a new numerical technique allowing for smooth combination of portions of known solutions to the constraints providing new, composite, initial data. A demonstration of the method was shown in gluing of a binary black hole configuration to Schwarzschild initial data. The approach may be of significant interest in engineering numerical space-times possessing novel phenomenology.
Welcome to Tim Candy
We are very pleased to welcome Tim Candy to the Department. Tim is a new Lecturer in Mathematics. He did his PhD at the University of Edinburgh, and has spent the past few years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. Tim's research interests lie in the general area of mathematical analysis, and in particular, on problems arising in partial differential equations and harmonic analysis. Recent work has focused on understanding the global behaviour of various nonlinear dispersive equations, and proving sharp bilinear estimates for products of waves.
Welcome to Sarah Wakes
We are very pleased Sarah Wakes has joined us as Associate Professor in Mathematics. Sarah’s current research interests are based around using Computational Fluid Dynamics to predict environmental wind flows and the use of numerical modelling in engineering design. She is currently working on modelling wind flows over complex coastal dune systems including sedimentation and vegetation roughness effects. She has close collaborations with colleagues in Geography and local businesses such as PowerHouse Wind.
As well as teaching in the department Sarah also contributes to the postgraduate Bioengineering programme as well as leading and teaching a popular Sustainability of Materials paper at Summer School. Sarah is the Chair of the Applied Sciences Board of Studies.
Welcome to Robert van Gorder
We are delighted to welcome new Senior Lecturer Robert van Gorder to the Department. Robert obtained his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Central Florida and was most recently a research fellow at the University of Oxford. Robert's research interests are in various areas of applied mathematics, mathematical modelling, and differential equations.
PhD position to study neutron stars
According to Newtonian Physics, neutron stars have a maximal rotational frequency. But none of the observed neutron stars rotate anywhere close to that limit. Do they lose angular momentum due to gravitational waves? How would that work?
These are some of the question we want to solve in this project within a collaboration with OzGrav, the Australian Centre of Excellence on Gravitational Physics.
Contact: Prof. J. Frauendiener
Image credit: ESO
LISA mission to detect gravitational waves
Researchers in the Department are part of a NZ-based group that have joined the LISA Consortium. LISA, or Laser Interferometry Space Antenna, is a family of three satellites that will detect gravitational waves coming from space. Joerg Frauendiener, Florian Beyer and Joerg Hennig in Maths are joined by Matt Parry in Stats, who is also the deputy leader of the group. The group is headed by Renate Meyer in Auckland and the work of the group was recently discussed in the NZ Herald.
Image credit: AEI/MM/exozet
New book on model averaging
Congratulations to David Fletcher on the publication of his new monograph on Model Averaging, published by Springer. Model averaging is a means of allowing for model uncertainty when analysing data, and is used in a wide range of application areas, such as ecology, econometrics, meteorology and pharmacology. The book is aimed at both statisticians and scientists, and provides a comprehensive overview and comparison of different methods, with over 600 references. The links between Bayesian and frequentist approaches to model averaging are discussed, as are those between methods developed independently in statistics, econometrics and machine learning.
Science Wānanga a hit with Wairoa Māori Students
Dr Phillip Wilcox recently led a module on genetics at a Science Wānanga in Dr Wilcox’s hau kainga (home area) of Te Wairoa in Northern Hawkes Bay. Over 50 Māori tauira (students) from Year 7-10 attended the Wānanga. Tauira learnt to extract DNA from strawberries, Māori concepts of inheritance, and the role of indigenous peoples in domesticating food crops. The wānanga was a huge success and feedback from tauira highlighted the DNA extraction exercise as being particularly memorable. Science Wānanga seeks to positively engage tauira in science-related topics, so that they will consider science as a study option and a career path, thus addressing the underrepresentation of Māori in sciences.
Early Career Research Award
We are delighted that Fabien Montiel has received the NZ Mathematical Society's Early Career Researcher Award for 2019. The citation noted his "outstanding contributions to the development of mathematical and computational methods in wave scattering theory and his innovative approach to modelling the propagation of ocean waves in ice-covered seas". Congratulations Fabien!
Best research paper
Congratulations to Timothy Bilton for picking up the Division of Sciences 2018 award for best research paper by a postgraduate student. Timothy's work helps account for errors in high-throughput sequencing data.
CALT Grant to Assess Numeracy
The Committee for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching (CALT) has awarded a grant to Boris Baeumer for his project on ''A Robust Tool to Assess Numeracy Competency for First Year Students''
(Image credit: Heidi de Vries. CC License)
Marsden Fast Start for Fabien Montiel
Fabien has been awarded a Marsden Fund Fast Start to study ocean wave and sea ice interaction. Congratulations!
Increasingly energetic swell in the Southern and Arctic Oceans can no longer be ignored in Earth System Models (ESMs) that are used for climate prediction. The goal of Fabien's project is to develop, validate and assimilate modelling of ocean wave interactions with sea ice in the NZESM, to improve forecasts of sea ice extent, thickness and concentration, and their impact of the climate system.
Marsden Fund award for Boris Baeumer
Congratulations to Boris for receiving a Marsden Fund award to study boundary conditions for non-local operators.
Non-local differential operators are a common mathematical tool to spatially model the risk of spread of an invasive species, an epidemic, or any other system where the outliers dominate the dynamics of spread. However, boundary conditions for non-local differential operators on a finite domain remain largely unknown. This not only leads to numerical inefficiencies but also hinders the applicability and accuracy of models.
David Bryant elected fellow of the Royal Society
David Bryant has been elected as a fellow of the Royal Society, New Zealand read more
Bryozoans are one of the most mineralogically-complex phyla in the sea. These small colonial invertebrates make hard skeletons from seawater in any of three carbonate minerals, sometimes in various combinations, in response to controls that are intrinsic (phylogeny, development) and extrinsic (environment).
We are looking for a PhD student with a strong background in statistics, mathematical biology, or quantitative environmental or marine science to develop models and statistical approaches that will bring out the best of a large collated database of bryozoan mineralogy. A background in marine or environmental science would be an advantage but is not required; strong quantitative skills are required.
For more information contact Prof Abby Smith
Image credit: John Turnbull (CC 2.0)
Simon Marais Maths Comp
The 2018 Simon Marais Mathematics Competition for undergraduate and Honours students is to be held on October 13. Students can enter individually or in pairs, and there is over $100,000 in prize money up for grabs.
If you are interested, please contact your local coordinators by September 21:
Melissa Tacy (Dept of Maths & Stats, Rm 220, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jörg Hennig (Dept of Maths & Stats, Rm 215, email@example.com)
IEJA Honours John Clark
The International Electronic Journal of Algebra has published a volume dedicated to the memory of the Department’s Associate Professor John Clark who died last year. Included is a tribute from Professor Patrick Smith of the University of Glasgow.
Malcolm Jones (3rd year Mathematics major) has been awarded a $6000 Freemasons university scholarship, which is awarded nationally to students based on academic merit and commitment to voluntary work in the community. A report in the Star (10/5) shows Malcolm explaining convex geometry and diversities to the deputy grand master Graham Wrigley.
Impact of tourism on whales and dolphins
The study focused on populations of spinner dolphins off the coast of Egypt in sites with no tourism, controlled tourist activity, and uncontrolled tourist activity. In the uncontrolled site, in particular, there is great concern that the dolphins' resting patterns are being disrupted.
The study "Behavioural responses of spinner dolphins to human interactions" has been published by Royal Society Open Science
Photo credit: A.Cesario (HEPCA)
Johannes Mosig, exceptional PhD thesis
Congratulations to Johannes is also called for. His PhD thesis "Contemporary wave–ice interaction models" is one of this year's Division of Sciences Exceptional Doctoral Theses.
The motivation for studying wave-ice interaction is that it plays a role in understanding climate change, and it is vital to wave forecasting models that have to be accurate to ensure the safety of e.g. research expeditions, coastal communities.