In CHOOSEMATHS grant winner profiles
CHOOSEMATHS Grant recipient profile: Huiwen Zheng

Huiwen Zheng

The University of Queensland, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

Bin is currently working as a technical assistance at The Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) and is pursuing a Master of Data Science at Monash University. Her Bachelor degree of Statistics at North China University of Technology was awarded in 2015, with the top 10 overall performance in the Faculty of Science. Her past works aimed at the intersection of parameters inference, mathematical modelling and financial prediction. She was intrigued about taking the theoretical statistics, mathematical modelling and data science tools in a more applied area. Now she is trying to apply clustering algorithms to explain the gene expression pattern and establish a mathematical model to simulate the gene regulatory networks which responsible for the heart formation.

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

I use applied mathematics and statistical methods to identify and assess the transcriptional gene expression in cancer genomics. This primarily includes the analysis of single-cell RNA-sequencing datasets from public available databases to test different patterns of selected genes and their functions.

What did you want to be when you grew up? If not mathematics research, what would have been?

I dreamt of being a scientist when I was young so I chose biology as my main major during my undergraduate study. Now I am working in the field as a computational biologist which joins both maths and biology together.

You attended AMSI BioInfoSummer, what drew you to this event? What was the most valuable part of AMSI BioInfoSummer for you in terms of furthering your career in mathematical sciences?

The most unique part of BioInfoSummer is the various opportunities for students to share their work and exchange ideas, which highly interested me and drew me the event. The networks built not only with peers but also with the experts from different fields of researchers was also very valuable.

In what ways has the experience impacted your maths studies? Did this event lead to any new contacts, projects, collaborations?

The hands-on workshops I attended largely influenced my understanding about maths application in biology content. During the poster session, I found another lab also focusing on the same topic as I did. We exchanged our contacts so that we can share our experience in the future.

Where do you see yourself in five or ten years time?

Maths really motivated me throughout my entire study life and I think I will study and apply more in my future career. In the next five years, I hope to complete my PhD and continue my career as a post-doc.

Did you learn about new career options available to you that you were not aware of prior to attending AMSI BioInfoSummer?

Yes! The career event invited experienced speakers in industry and/or academic who gave a lot of valuable advice and explained different possibilities for the future career.

Who are your mentors? Who do you admire?

My supervisor Associate Professor Jessica Mar has always been the person guiding me through my study. She has a strong mathematics background and encourages me to pursue a math career.

You received a CHOOSEMATHS Grant to assist your attendance at AMSI BioInfoSummer. How important was this in terms of your ability to attend and fully participate in the sessions throughout the week?

As a PhD student, the grant was important in financially supporting my attendance at the conference as well as providing the opportunity and encouragement to study Maths. I learnt about this grant through my supervisor and the BioinforSummer website.

How important are initiatives such as the CHOOSEMATHS Grants in terms of fostering the participation and achievement of women in mathematics, particularly in terms of access to networking opportunities and further training opportunities?

Initiatives such as CHOOSEMATHS Grants are extremely important in providing women in mathematics opportunities to step out and build connections. It also links women together to share experiences and support each other through the obstacles and I am determined to help others in pursuing a Math career in the future.

The CHOOSEMATHS Grants are part of a broader program being delivered by AMSI Schools with support from BHP Foundation to turn the tide on Australia’s maths deficit and strengthen maths education and participation of women across the discipline. What do you see as the big challenges facing maths in Australia, particularly for women?

I think there is a lack of great maths teachers at secondary school. There needs to be encouragement early on (primary and high school level) for young women to study and continue studies of mathematics so that young women can be inspired and rise their passion and interest in Maths.

Best piece of advice you’ve received?

The future of maths is bright as every field needs it!

If a peer asked you if they should attend AMSI BioInfoSummer, how would you describe the conference to them?

A friendly and informative conference that provides a hands-on workshops to the learning of data analysis principles in multi-discipline research.