In AMSI scholarship recipient
AMSI scholarship recipient profile: Chrysovalantis Thomopoulos

Chrysovalantis Thomopoulos

Monash University 

Chrysovalantis Thomopoulos migrated from Greece to Australia 4 years ago and Mathematics proved to be my guiding compass through this and other big life transitions. He is enrolled into a Science-Advanced Degree and  commencing his Honours year with Dr. Philip Hall. He is guiding my research journey into Fluid Dynamics and specifically Transition to Turbulence, a topic that he fell in love with in his third year.

Chrysovalantis Thomopoulos distinctly remember solving equations as a child at the dining table with his father and his siblings, which always turned into a competition of who could finish the worksheet first. From there, his passion grew and after trialling civil engineering at a Greek university, He decided that applied mathematics was his calling.His future aspirations include to publish a research paper in a reputable journal, to contribute to bettering broader society through solving complex problems.

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

My main mathematical interests revolve around Fluid Dynamics. It is applicable to increasing fuel use and aerodynamic efficiency which impacts transport industries. Additionally, it can help society navigate global warming by modelling potential climate impacts for vulnerable industries and countries. One example is the thinning and melting of ice sheets.

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

Certain high school teachers saw that I had some potential and motivated me to pursue Mathematics further although I did not really love it at the time. After taking some first-year units I realized that mathematics was my calling and fast forward a couple of years I am undertaking an AMSI Summer School Unit. I’m about to proceed with an Honours research topic with Philip Hall, a legend in his own right having contributed greatly in the transition to turbulence segment of mathematics. He has also inspired me to pursue mathematics research.

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 attended the AMSI Summer School in 2021 which allowed me to expand my knowledge, form a lot of friendships and generally prepared me for my postgraduate journey. Receiving the scholarship in 2022 not only further motivated me to do my best but also enabled me to invest my energy into this unit and furthering my career, thus fulfilling my drive to continue. Through the program this year, I’ve met and networked with individuals from universities across Australia with varying passions, expanding my horizons.

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?

The friendships that were formed throughout the Summer School are invaluable, as are the professional connections I’ve nurtured. Although we live in different cities in Australia we have plans to meet up in the future – with the possibility of collaboration on research projects. Also, I can confidently say that with all the new skills that I acquired my problem solving has improved and my research interests will be further expanded.

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?

Prior to the careers day, I’d only casually explored the industry opportunities available to me via the LinkedIn job search. The careers day broadened my horizons and alerted me to the many opportunities available to mathematics graduates – and I believe I would consider working in industry. I do feel better equipped to explore career options. The exposure to different niches within the industry via students and lecturers from all over Australia was a direct result from participating in the AMSI Summer School program, which I’m incredibly grateful for.

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?

The flexibility that virtual learning affords meant that I was able to study from home, from the library or from the Monash University campus. It also meant that more people across Australia could participate in the program, which may not have been possible had it been held at the University of Technology Sydney. A challenge that virtual learning posed was that the in-person collaboration that results from the physical gathering of mathematical minds meant that bouncing ideas off peers was more difficult.

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

I would advise that commencing students not be discouraged from the fact that the Summer School is online. Overall, it was a great experience, and as challenging as it is, it is also incredibly rewarding. The like-minded people that one will meet in the program may become co-workers, mentors and even friends.

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

In five years’ time, I can picture myself in a research group in either industry or academia, as part of a team that enjoys solving relevant problems applicable to wider society. In ten years’ time, I’d like to be accomplished and respected in my field – I would love to have a positive impact on our world.

Any other comments you would like to provide?

Dr Anja Slim and Dr Edward Hinton were inspirational and part of the reason I was strongly inclined to participate in the program again. I benefitted from the discussion that arose within Discord and Perusal platforms. I would love them to be utilised in my further higher education at Monash University – this format of facilitated communication is something that I’ll be applying to my core studies and research. I would like to thank the AMSI Summer School for having me for the second time, and I’m very grateful to be a scholarship recipient.