In AMSI scholarship recipient
AMSI scholarship recipient profile: Amarsha Gooneratne

Amarsha Gooneratne

Murdoch University

Amarsha Gooneratne was born in Sri Lanka and my family migrated to Australia when she was two. Amarsha Gooneratne always loved school and mathematics was my favourite subject growing up. She started tutoring others to help them with Maths when she was in year 8 and continued professionally, She really enjoyed helping others to understand mathematical concepts and find it to be a very fulfilling job, nothing beats seeing someone have that ‘aha’ moment. Currently, Amarsha Gooneratne is a student at Murdoch University just starting  third year in Mathematics and Chemistry with a GPA of 3.933. She aims to use the knowledge that she gained at university to become an educator, helping young people who struggle with STEM subjects.

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

I am studying mathematics and statistics. If you think of any type of research, whether it’s about plant species, which products sell better at the shops answering almost any question requires data collection and analysis or simulation. These are the kinds of things that I am studying. How we can take massive amounts of raw data and then find useful information from it.

I also really enjoy mathematical modelling. So many different real-life problems can be illustrated using models and optimised to save companies huge masses of money each year.

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

Not really, I’ve just always really liked maths and that’s why I wanted to study it further. I have also had many incredible teachers along the way that encouraged me to continue.

You received a scholarship to attend AMSI Summer School 2022. How important was this in terms of your ability to attend, fully participate in the program and meet others studying in similar fields?

I was not planning on attending if I did not receive the scholarship since the content was quite above my level and I knew it was going to be a very difficult few weeks, but the scholarship gave me additional motivation to try my best.

The purpose of Summer School is to give students an opportunity to develop their mathematical skills, meet like-minded people and network with potential employers. What was the most valuable part of the program for you? Was it the course content or the people you met? Do you have new ideas for your work/research or see it in a new light?

I think the careers days and guest lectures were the best because they open your eyes up to new and unexpected ways that mathematics can be applied. The lecture about mathematical art was awesome.

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? Would you consider working with industry? Do you feel better equipped to explore career options in the mathematical sciences after attending AMSI Summer School?

I knew of very few mathematical jobs before, only teaching and a data analyst but now I know there are many more and yes I would consider working in these other fields.

AMSI Summer School was held as a virtual event. What was the biggest positive from your point of view holding it in this format and/or the biggest challenge?

I was able to attend because it was virtual, if it were a live event in Sydney, I would not have been able to make it. In saying that though, there is much less interaction because it is virtual. The only time I got to speak and get to know other students was on the tutorials on Friday which were great. I think it would be great if we were asked to turn out cameras at the beginning of the course, I think there would be a lot more interaction if everyone had seen everyone else and we would all get comfortable with each other much faster.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for Summer School in 2023? Should they apply and why?

If you are on holiday you may as well do it, you get to meet new people who are studying similar topics to you and learn a lot and you can take your course for credit if you get approval. It is an intense few weeks but you can do it.

Where do you want the mathematical sciences to take you? Where do you see yourself in five, ten years time?

As an ATAR/ HSC Mathematics and Chemistry teacher.

Any other comments you would like to provide?

Thank you for giving me the scholarship. ?