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AMSI scholarship recipient profile:Hugh Michalski

Hugh Michalski

University of Adelaide

Hugh Michalski grew up in a semi-rural patch of country side and spend his childhood exploring the natural world and the world of science and mathematics in equal parts. He completed bachelors of advanced mathematical sciences at the University of Adelaide in 2021 during which I focused my studies in the area of pure mathematics. Upon graduating he realised his true interest lied in the field of applied mathematics and have commenced a Masters in the area of Dynamics looking at modelling the surface of open channel flows past topographic forcing. When not working Hugh Michalski splits his time between bird watching or snorkeling out in the natural world, cooking and eating delicious food, playing board games for which he loves the structured set of rule and consuming fiction in whichever form he finds it, be that books, movies, tv or games.

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

I am currently working on a masters by research and course work in the field of applied mathematics at the University of Adelaide. My particular area of interest is modelling the surface of water in open channel flows. Surface waves in open channel flows, such as in irrigation channels, and hydraulic infrastructure carries energy. This energy can damage the infrastructure such as weirs and dams and erode channel banks. This is obviously an undesired effect as damage to infrastructure must be repaired wasting resources and eroded banks can cause a loss of water. By understanding the effect of the channel bottom on the surface such waves can be eliminated by appropriate changes in the channel topography.

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

Growing up I have always loved science and all related fields, I have very fond memories of watching science and math documentaries and attending science activities with my father. When I got to high school I naturally followed this passion by taking every STEM subject I could. It was in high school that I found I was better at and enjoyed math more than science, although I still have a warm place in my heart for all the sciences. I remember a particular teacher telling me that undertaking a general bachelor of science, as I was planning was a waste and that i                  should do a mathematics degree.

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?

The scholarship definitely helped to encourage me to participate. That said the program was very appealing and I would have likely participated to some degree regardless.

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 course work was very helpful, it covered an area around which I will be working on in the future and which is somewhat of a blind spot in my education history. In my undergraduate degree I studied mostly pure mathematics and am now working in applied mathematic this means I missed key subjects, by taking this course I have developed usable knowledge which I would otherwise have to do without. The people I meet in the courses were all very kind and helpful, I now have the contact information for many people working in the same field                           which I recognise is an invaluable resource.

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?

I have always had academics in mind when pursuing study, industry has never particularly interested me. That said events like this are a good reminder that mathematics can take people in a staggering number of directions and that by pursuing STEM one truly opens the door to many possible futures. Its a great comfort to know that if I                  decide not to pursue higher academics there are plenty of industry positions I could pursue.

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 online nature of the summer school made it very simple to connect with a wide range of people from all over the country and even internationally, the fact that I could take the course from home meant that it was easier to stick to the schedule and I didn’t have to worry about transport which can sometimes be difficult where I live.That said online events always have their draw backs, delay and such can make communicating more difficult and it makes it easier of shy and introverted people to fade into the back ground.

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

I think that there is at least one reason for everyone interested in Mathematics to apply. The course work is fascinating on it own and can be taken for credit lighting ones load in the semester. It provides great opportunities to learn about industry and interact with them. It allows one to build a network of their peers which is a key step in success. With the help of the scholarship everyone can attend. I would recommend applying to everyone and suggest they come with an open mind and an open book and be ready to meet many kind and very intelligent people.

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

Thats a little hard to say, I have always pursued maths out of passion and interest never really stopping to make a plan along the way and simply following my curiosity and interest through the doors that  opened in front of me. From where I stand now I see myself pursuing research work in the immediate future and perhaps tutoring or  teaching a little further along the way.

Any other comments you would like to provide?

The Summer School was an excellent experience and the Scholarship  made attending much easier, I would simply like to thank both for the positive experience.