In CHOOSEMATHS grant winner profiles
CHOOSEMATHS Grant recipient profile: Zoe Renwick

Zoe Renwick

RMIT University

I’m a first year PhD student researching solar radiation modelling.
I am passionate about the need for Australia to shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies. I feel quite lucky to be able to research an area I am both passionate about, and be able to incorporate my statistical knowledge into that… and hopefully make a contribution one day!

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 statistical methods to improve solar irradiance modelling. Interest in the use of solar energy as a renewable energy resource has increased with fears surrounding climate change, and the burning of fossil fuels. Using statistical methods, we can improve the reliability in predicting and forecasting the amount of solar resource available at a particular location.

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

AMSI Optimise had an impressive line up of speakers, at the top of their field. It was also great to see that encouraging female participation in mathematics is a high priority for AMSI.

I met some great minds at AMSI optimise that I was able to bounce ideas off. Surprisingly, I connected with a fellow PhD student from my home university who I hadn’t met before, and who I intend to collaborate with.

The key aim of Optimise is to strengthen research-industry collaboration within this key mathematics innovation space. How effective was this event in stimulating such discussion and opportunities?

I thought AMSI really achieved a lot of open and collaborative discussions around innovations in the mathematics space.

What do you think are the key challenges for Australian industry-research collaboration within optimisation? What needs to happen to strengthen these linkages?

There is some disconnect between industry and academia that needs to be further bridged with events such as AMSI Optimise, so that both parties can see how such collaboration can be beneficial.

How important was receiving a CHOOSEMATHS grant in terms of your ability to attend and fully participate in the AMSI Optimise 2019 sessions throughout the week?

I found out about the grant through my university. I wouldn’t have been able to attend and had this great opportunity if it weren’t for the AMSI grant, so I am incredibly grateful!

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?

There is still a huge disparity between male and female participation in STEM, so it is great to see this kind of encouragement of women in mathematics.

Through learning about others’ research, I have come home with a lot of new ideas about the direction of my research, as well as meeting someone who I can collaborate with!

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 investment is a huge problem, government can be a little short sighted when it comes to seeing how investing in STEM can have a huge return on investment. Likewise, diversity is a great friend of innovation, so encouraging cultural and gender diversity in mathematics can only be a good thing!

Did you always want to pursue a career in maths? Were you encouraged to study these subjects at school?

I never considered a career in mathematics until a few years ago. I met my current supervisor during my masters degree, and he had a huge role to play in helping me believe in myself and my capabilities.

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

I would love to continue researching and learning for as long as I can, whether that be in industry or academia. It’s what makes me happy.

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

Certainly, I didn’t realise how much industry needs the skills that I am currently developing.

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

An excellent networking and learning opportunity!