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AMSI scholarship recipient profile:Jacob Vandenberg

Jacob Vandenberg

Monash University

In 2021 Jacob Vandenberg finished his Third year of Bachelor of Science Advanced (Research) at Monash University. He learnt about his passion for research when he completed an AMSI vacation research scholarship in the summer of 2020-2021. Since then, He have been researching Turing instabilities in heterogeneous systems, and hope to complete his honours thesis in the same area.

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

My studies revolve around differential equations, specifically with the application to reaction-diffusion systems. More specifically, in biology and ecology we see many patterns arising, but the reason why the patterns appear is not clear. The outcomes of my research could help explain why these patterns occur and help explain many problems in developmental biology.

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

I have always been interested in Mathematics. Throughout school and university, I have always excelled at problem solving and have always enjoyed doing it. More recently, my interest in high performance computing has promoted my interest in mathematics and trying to do it as fast as possible.

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 ability to attend this program has been transformational to being able to meet people studying in similar fields, even from my own university! The scholarship was pivotal to my participation and being able to fully attend and make the most of the program has been extremely useful.

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 most valuable part of the program was the ability to meet like-minded people and discuss hard problems with them. Nothing is more educational than working through problems with other people. In many positions of my research, I have had to call back on my knowledge from coursework. Given how closely related the content was to my research, I am anticipating the summer subject giving me many new ideas and unlocking new pathways for my future research.

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?

Having done some work as a junior software developer and some consulting work, I have been quite aware of the career paths available to me. That being said, the careers day has brought to light many more opportunities that are waiting for me. The AMSI Summer school has equipped me with the confidence and knowledge to proceed into a career in the industry that I didn’t have before.

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 biggest bonus of having it online is the flexibility. It made managing other commitments very easy. However, the biggest challenge for me was engagement. I find it much more engaging to be watching lectures and participating in tutorials while in an in-person context.

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

Do it! It is a great experience; you will meet heaps of people who are just like you. You will learn a bunch, and it can lighten the load for your further study.

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

In five or ten years time I want to have completed a PhD, and be working in software development by some accounts. I really want my interests in mathematics to be useful and productive to making a better world.

Any other comments you would like to provide?

It was a great program and I really enjoyed participating. I really encourage anyone considering the program to take part.