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AMSI scholarship recipient profile:Kai Li

Kai Li

University of Adelaide

Kai Li recently graduated from Bachelor of mathematical sciences (Advanced) from the University of Adelaide in 2021. He is currently enrolled in his first year of Master of Philosophy in Applied Mathematic also at the University of Adelaide in computational biology. Throughout his bachelors, He really enjoyed so much of the mathematics he used and applied, hence inspiring me to pursue future studies. Also, he loves collaboration with his friends and peers when solving mathematical problems as it always makes the experience a whole tone more enjoyable.

Kai Li is a huge fan of mathematical communication and making mathematics accessible to the general public. This is evidence it the fact that he loves talking and sharing his passion for mathematics to everyone. In the future, he aspire’s to work in academia where he can inspire the next generation of young minds to pursue a career in mathematics.Outside of study, He enjoys hobbies ranging from speed cubing, basketball, to participating actively in the Adelaide University Maths Society.

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

My research in masters is in the field of mathematical biology. In particular, I am interested in the area of microbial biology or more specially the study of cells and their interaction with each other and their environment. For example, cells have the ability to move, reproduce or die which can be affected their environment such as nutrient levels. My research is interested in understanding how these mechanisms work and being able to further develop useful models and theories. This has huge applications in medicine such as disease treatment, food and beverage production as well as biotechnology. How exciting!

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

I am a child of a migrant family. When I first came to Australia at age of 7, I knew no English. So, when I was in the classroom, mathematics was the only language that I could understand better than anything taught in the class. I guess I experienced the saying that “mathematics is the language of the universe” from a very young age. Hence, I was always very “good” at it. This later build into my identity and it was the senior of high where I cemented my idea of becoming a mathematician. The reason was I have some very impactful teachers who inspired and encouraged me to pursue my passion.

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 am a strong believer in collaboration and work together to solve problem. This is especially true in maths because it just makes the process ever much rewarding and fun! Although this year, AMSI like most events was impacted by COVID-19 the organisers did their very best to replicate this. Events such as Gather Town, Zoom talks and live lectures really helps. However, I would still say I would have benefits immensely if this event was in person. To meet others who study in similar fields would have been a true pleasure because it gives me as a new research student a sense of belonging and provided the opportunity to network, socialise, and even build relationship that could carry to our careers. Hence, I believe attending summer school with different students from other universities would be a valuable experience.

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?

Firstly, summer school is a very mental simulating course that challenged my skills and hence developing the further. Although, I did not have too much opportunity to interact with students I can still sense the belonging and love for mathematics that every other student and lecturer shared. For me it’s almost always the people I meet that makes the experience so much better. I would say so in this case because seeing so much motivated mathematics students makes me want to strive for higher excellence. This was prevalent when I gave a participant talk and also saw the other wonderful presentations. All the comments and questions made it that ever rewarding and felt very supported.

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?

Working in industry has always been in my mind because I would love to apply what I learnt in my degree to good use. Although, I did know that a mathematics degree can provided so much job prospects, but thee Careers Day event concrete and supported many of my belief and idea. (It was really good that I can take pride in telling people how cool many cool maths jobs there are rather than just telling them about the cool maths).

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 most positive point of view for virtual event was that lectures were streamed live, and I didn’t have to leave home in such as COVID-19 circumstance.

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

Firstly, summer school is intensive, don’t forget that. But it is also rewarding. Keep up and ask a lot of question. All the lecturers are super nice. Anna, the coordinator is super nice and always happy to help and reply to emails promptly. Hence, there is no excuse to not apply. And as an added bonus it counts towards one of your master’s or honours course work.

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

I see myself with mathematics for my entire life. The next five to ten years would play a pivotal role to which type of mathematics I will be exploring. The “ideal” circumstance would be completed my Master of Philosophy in Applied Mathematics and continue with a PhD also in Applied Mathematics. Then if I loved research even more, I would apply for post doctorate positions around Australia or international and see where that takes me. Alternatively, if I feel more adventurous, I would like to work in industry. It would be a dream to work for a discipline that is uses Applied mathematics and maybe a little bit of data science (but not too much). I would really love to make applied mathematics shine!

Any other comments you would like to provide?

This event has been wonderful. I enjoyed the extra events. Would have loved it more if it was in person. A suggestion could be creating a community outside of lecture times for students. I know there was a student run discord channel. This would be extended in some sort to make remote learning a bit more enjoyable. Love Matias for Bayesian Statistical Learning. Keep up your enthusiasm! Thanks Anna as well! And happy 20th birthday AMSI! Thanks for having me!