In AMSI scholarship recipient
AMSI grant recipient profile: David Wilson

David Wilson

University of New South Wales, Sydney

I am an honours student completing an applied math major at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. I have entered my honours year after completing an undergraduate program in Advanced Science and Fine Arts. I chose these degrees after forming a strong love for mathematics and art in high school. I believe in the ability mathematics has to inform art and the ability art has to inform mathematics. My honours project aims to implement and improve image segmentation techniques used to determine characteristics of sea ice in Antarctica.

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

Characteristics of sea ice in Antarctica such as area, perimeter and density are important data used by climate change experts. My mathematics involves taking aerial images of sea ice and segmenting individual ice floes in order to determine these characteristics. Image segmentation techniques involve using mathematical optimisation, graph theory and computer science.

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

Mathematics has been a passion of mine since high school. I enjoy the problem solving and thinking that surrounds mathematics. I am inspired by the applications mathematics has had in the world as well as the exciting developments in recent years in areas such as machine learning.

You received a Travel Grant to attend AMSI Summer School 2023. How important was this in terms of your ability to attend, fully participate in the program and meet others studying in similar fields?

Receiving a Travel Grant was essential for me to attend the AMSI Summer School 2023. Without the Travel Grant I would have had to complete the course online which would have been a huge disadvantage for me. Having an in-person style of interaction for the first two weeks enabled me to fully embrace the courses, the people, and the experience. Learning new material was easier when attending lectures and being able to ask questions before and after class. I would often work on assignments with other students in the common room at college. This was a wonderful experience which improved my understanding of the content and was a lot of fun.

What was the most valuable part of the program for you?

The most valuable part of the program was sharing the experience with other people. It was a pleasure to eat meals with other students and lecturers and have conversations both mathematically and socially. I felt my learning was improved when being in this environment compared to being at home and learning online. The program has made me curious to implement different aspects of mathematics into my own research project. For instance, I wonder how deep learning could play a part in image segmentation.

In the long-term, what do you think are the benefits of having attended Summer School?

The long-term benefits of having attended summer school are having made connections with students and lecturers. These connections are friendships that could also become future research partners or colleagues. An important benefit to me is when I look back at my time at university, I will be glad that I experienced summer school and fully embraced this wonderful opportunity.

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?

Having a Careers Day program definitely gave me further insight about my future career. It enabled me to expand my vision on the type of opportunities that exist in industry. Hearing some of the career opportunities during the presentation allowed me to listen to some of the possibilities I may not have previously considered.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for Summer School in 2024? Should they apply and why?

I would definitely encourage a student studying mathematics to apply for the Summer School in 2024. It is a great way to complete some units of credit at your home university whilst learning some very interesting mathematics that can benefit your own research as well as making friends. I would particularly encourage a student to attend the summer school in real life to obtain the full experience.

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

I see myself working in the mathematics industry in five years’ time. I hope to obtain a mathematical science role. Perhaps in ten years’ time I will return to research as I love learning and pushing myself as well as pushing the bounds of mathematics.