Currently, I am doing a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at Murdoch University under the guidance of Prof. Graeme Hocking. My project is in Fluid Dynamics and it is about the extraction of density-layered fluid from a porous medium.
I completed my Bachelor of Science in Mathematics (B.SC) and Master of Science in Mathematics (M.Sc) and also Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) in Kerala, India. I then worked as an Assistant Professor in Mathematics at an Engineering College in India. Then I had a strong intention to develop a career in Applied Mathematics and so I decided to do a PhD in the same field.
My other areas of interest include partial differential equations, differential, and integral calculus and complex analysis.
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 doing my project in Fluid Dynamics. The project is about the extraction of density-layered fluid from a porous medium. The flow of fluids in porous media is very important across a range of applications which includes oil recovery from underground, pumping freshwater from aquifers and mineral leaching in mining applications. A characteristic of the fluids in many of these applications is that they are stratified in density due to fluid properties (oil-water) or salt content (fresh-water, salt-water). One approach is to use large simulation packages (e.g., COMSOL) to determine such flows in particular locations. However, the accuracy of these methods is not determined, they have difficulty dealing with sharp interfaces and they can be time-consuming. Traditional methods include modelling the interface as a free boundary and simplifying the equations to those that can be solved quickly and accurately. Improved water resources management and better utilisation of limited water and oil reserves may result from the project.
You received a CHOOSEMATHS Grant to assist your attendance at AMSI Winter School 2019. How important was this in terms of your ability to attend and fully participate in the sessions throughout the program?
I could attend the AMSI Winter School 2019 only because of the support of this grant. The grant helps me to take my 2-year-old son with me. Two weeks of course otherwise must have been a big challenge. So, without any stress, I could fully attend this course.
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?
CHOOSEMATHS Grant provides a great opportunity for young women in their early career in mathematics to participate in the most valuable programs and to meet great mathematicians from around the globe. It was also an inspiration for me to talk to women speakers who achieved the highest in mathematics.
In what ways has the experience impacted your maths studies? Has it influenced the direction of your research?
Some topics were much relevant to my research project and I could gain better knowledge about it. A few topics which were not quite related to my study were a bit challenging for me. But I could listen to great speakers and their experiences which was an inspiration for me. I think I can relate to some topics which I got to know from this course with my current work for the future.
What was the most valuable part of AMSI Winter School 2019 for you in terms of furthering your career in mathematical sciences?
The main thing that every participant in AMSI Winter School will understand is the vast opportunities for those who are in the mathematical background. Also, we will get to know the fields or industries in which we can continue our careers. The interactive sessions were also great for networking.
A panel session on the APR Intern program was included on the first day of the program. One of the aims of the program is to maximise employability and help prepare research graduates to drive industry/private sector research. Are you hoping to work with industry? How important is this experience for researchers? Particularly in terms of offering career flexibility for women?
According to APR Intern’s survey, women in mathematics who are working in an industry is comparatively very less when compared that of men. But they were saying that there are vast opportunities in the industry for those who are working in the field of mathematics but most of them aren’t aware of this. As an applied mathematician, I have a great interest in doing some industrial jobs for an experience after completing my Ph.D.
The CHOOSEMATHS Grants are part of a broader program being delivered by AMSI Schools with support from the 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?
The majority of our people have a belief that industrial jobs will not be flexible for women, but it is a misconception in my opinion. I think, one who is very passionate about doing work in their areas of interest can be flexible in any jobs including industrial jobs. The only thing is we have to set our minds.
Did you always want to pursue a career in maths? Were you encouraged to study these subjects at school? Do any particular mentors come to mind? Any outstanding teachers?
I had a strong intention to choose the field of mathematics from the high school level, where I had an amazing teacher who found my passion for mathematics and she guided me very well. Also, I had many wonderful teachers in my Bachelors degree level as well as at the time of doing my Masters degree. I decided to pursue my career in applied mathematics after working as an Assistant Professor in Mathematics in an engineering college. So I decided to do my Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics. I was lucky enough to get Prof. Graeme Hocking of Murdoch University as my supervisor. He is very supportive and guides me through all the ups and downs of my Ph.D. He practices me to do my work more independently and accurately.
Where do you see yourself in five, ten years’ time?
After completing my Ph.D., I have a strong intention to do PDF as well. Then, I would like to work in an industry where I can use my knowledge gained through the research. Teaching is my passion and I would like to continue it always.
Any other feedback/comments you would like to provide on the CHOOSEMATHS grant or AMSI Winter School 2019?
I am thankful to the AMSI Winter School and CHOOSEMATHS Grant for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to participate and to meet the great speakers from different countries.
What advice would you give to a student who is considering taking up Winter School in 2020? Should they apply and why?
I will highly recommend this course for everyone especially for early career researchers in mathematics. It is a great opportunity to know about careers in mathematics and to meet and listen to awesome speakers from different countries. Group activities, conference dinner, social dinner, etc, are also great to know each other and to make social networking skills. It can be very helpful for future collaboration.