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CHOOSEMATHS Grant recipient profile: Shuaige Qiao

Shuaige Qiao

Australian National University

Shuaige Qiao is a PhD student at ANU who works with professor Bryan Wang. Shuaige graduated from the China University of Petroleum (CUP) as a bachelor. In CUP Shuaige majored in financial management. Later, she found her interest in mathematics, especially in analysis and topology. After spending two years of study on analysis, topology, Morse theory and Gauge theory in Master’s degree in ANU, she developed a profound understanding in functional analysis, differential geometry, Morse theory, algebraic topology and Lie algebra. Now, under the support of ANU-CSC scholarship, Shuaige continues her research as a PhD in the area of Gauge theory in 4-manifolds with professor Bryan Wang.

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

My research is about gauge theory in 4-manifolds. It is a study of  the module space of anti-self-dual connections over 4-manifolds. It has a wide application in Physics.

You received a CHOOSEMATHS Grant to assist your attendance at AMSI Summer School 2018. How important was this in terms of your ability to attend and fully participate in the sessions throughout the program?

Without this grant, I would not be able to afford the cost for the travel, so it is necessary for me to be part of this activity at all.

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?

My personal is one case where participant cannot attend without the grant. Also, with a group of women researchers gathered together, more interests and more possibility of cooperation are explored.

In what ways has the experience impacted your maths studies? Has it influenced the direction of your research?

During the activity I participated not only topics on my research direction but also some topics that are foreign to me. The result was very pleasing as it allows me to see how my knowledge is related to and can be applied to other fields. Although my general interest remains on the current direction.

What was the most valuable part of AMSI Summer School 2018 for you in terms of furthering your career in mathematical sciences?

For me the most valuable part is that I get to meet other women that share similar interest in math as I do.

A presentation on the AMSI Intern program was included as part of the Careers Afternoon. One of the aims of the AMSI Intern program is to maximise employability and help prepare research graduates to drive industry/private sector research. Are you hoping to work with industry? How important is this experience for researchers? Particularly in terms of offering career flexibility for women?

No, I do not intend to work with industry. But for other researchers I think it may be good for them to get to know about possible opportunities of industry work as they might not be aware since their attention is usually drawn to heavy theoretical work.

The CHOOSEMATHS Grants are part of a broader program being delivered by AMSI Schools with support from BHP Billiton 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?

For maths in Australia, I think the big challenge is that females are being deliberately encouraged to pursue in math (or science, in general) when it should not happen. It would be well sufficient as long as women are not discouraged from it in the sense that any women who takes interest in this area of study should feel no resistance due to their gender. To take the encouragement any further would be an over-action as academic studies are highly talent-based, to encourage women pursuing this area would attract people with intention of taking advantage of  this encouragement, who is normally not capable of producing great work in maths. Hence resources would be wasted  on these kind of people. The philosophical point behind this is one who bear talent in the area of science need not be encouraged to pursue science as the talent is bound with the impulse of pursual.

Did you always want to pursue a career in maths? Were you encouraged to study these subjects at school? Do any particular mentors come to mind? Any outstanding teachers?

Yes, it become rather clear during my university study due to my narrow set of interests. I was neither encouraged nor discouraged to study these at school (which, in my opinion, was the best environment there could be in terms of shaping ones interest). My master and PhD supervisor Prof.Bryan Wang is the best teacher I have met in my academic life.

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

Professional researcher, mathematician wanna be.

Any other feedback/comments you would like to provide on the CHOOSEMATHS grant or AMSI Summer School 2018?

Great event, I hope activities like this could happen more in the future.