In AMSI scholarship recipient
AMSI grant recipient profile: Adam Thompson

Adam Thompson

The University of Queensland

I am in the first year of my MPhil at the University of Queensland. Before starting my MPhil, I completed my undergraduate studies at UQ. Throughout my life, I have always been eager to learn and I think that partly why I enjoy maths so much: it’s an incredibly rich subject, so there is always more to learn!

Can you give me a quick rundown about the type of mathematics you are studying and its potential impacts for the broader community?

I study Riemannian geometry. Roughly speaking, that means that I study the curvature of shapes. Geometry is probably one of the oldest areas of maths; it was studied by Euclid in some 2000 years ago.  Geometry is important to study because of how good it is at describing physical objects.  For example, in Einstein’s theory of general relativity, he describes space-time as a geometric object. So, it’s important to have a rich understanding of geometry so that the physical theories described using it can be properly understood – and so that new ones can be developed.

How did you get into mathematics/statistics/data science? Was there someone or something that inspired you to this field?

I have an older brother who also studies maths. (In fact, he also attended the 2023 summer school.) In a way, him studying maths both opened my eyes to the possibility of me studying it and made me hesitant to choose it as a degree; I didn’t want to just blindly follow in his footsteps. What convinced me in the end was my high school maths teacher.  She encouraged me to give it a try.  In the end, I chose to try it – and within a week of lectures, I knew it was where I belonged.

You received a Travel Grant to attend AMSI Summer School 2023. How important was this in terms of your ability to attend, fully participate in the program and meet others studying in similar fields?

To me, attending the summer school in person was extremely important.  As I’ve gotten further through my studies, I’ve come to appreciate meeting people who are as passionate about maths as I am. While online courses are convenient at times, I think that when it comes to meeting new people, there is no comparison between being online and in-person.

What was the most valuable part of the program for you?

For me it was a mix.  I took the non-linear PDE course, which covered content that anyone in geometry should understand, so that was valuable to me.  On the other hand, I was expecting my motivation to wane slightly after finished my undergraduate studies.  But after being at the summer school I’ve found the opposite; I think meeting everyone there has excited me about my future in maths.

In the long-term, what do you think are the benefits of having attended Summer School?

One long term benefit to me is the discussions I had. I don’t necessarily mean that I had discussions which on important topics with important ramifications – what I mean is that, I believe, being able advocate for your own ideas in group discussions is an important skill.  It can also be difficult, particularly when there are people in the group, you’re less familiar with.  Since AMSI brings together people from all across Australia, it is the perfect place to practise.

Summer School included a special Careers Day program which aims to help give students an idea of the kinds of career paths available to maths graduates in industry and private sector research areas. Were you previously aware of the types of industry opportunities available to mathematical science graduates?

What surprised me at the careers day was the breadth of opportunities.  That said, while I wouldn’t rule out eventually having an industry career, for the time being I am going to pursue a career in academia; I think I am just too interested in my research at the moment to leave it.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for Summer School in 2024? Should they apply and why?

I think if they enjoy maths, and you enjoying meeting people who also enjoy maths, then they should absolutely apply.