In AMSI scholarship recipient
AMSI grant recipient profile: Zahra Shahriari

Zahra Shahriari

The University of Western Australia

I am a first-year PhD student in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Western Australia. Before starting my PhD, I worked for 15 months as a data analyst in a bank in my home country of Iran. In fact, I was dissatisfied with that work and preferred the field of research, so I decided to pursue a PhD and learn new skill sets in order to advance my academic career. My ambition is to advance in the field of academic research and to spread knowledge.

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

My working area in mathematics is nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory. These areas of mathematics deal with the behavior of systems that change over time, and can display complex, seemingly random behavior. By understanding these systems, we can make predictions and improve our understanding of a wide range of phenomena in the natural and man-made world, such as weather patterns, financial markets, and even the behavior of some biological systems.

The potential impacts of this work are far-reaching and could have important implications for fields as diverse as finance, meteorology, and medicine. By improving our understanding of these systems, we can make more informed decisions and develop better strategies for managing and predicting their behaviour.

How did you get into mathematics? Was there someone or something that inspired you into this field?
I was a master’s student in biomedical engineering. Biological cell modelling was required during my studies. I became interested in this area of mathematics after becoming acquainted with nonlinear modelling and chaos theory. As a result, I decided to continue my research in this area.

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?

I am so thankful to have received the Travel Grant to attend AMSI Summer School 2023. This grant was instrumental in allowing me to attend the program, fully participate in the sessions, and connect with other students studying other fields to expand my knowledge. Attending the summer school in-person provided me with an invaluable opportunity to ask questions and engage in meaningful discussions with the speakers and fellow students.
In-person interaction has been a valuable advantage compared to virtual learning. The hands-on workshops, group projects, and networking opportunities allowed me to gain new skills and build meaningful connections with other students and professionals in the field. The ability to learn and interact in a collaborative environment has been an enriching experience. I believe it will benefit me greatly in my future academic and professional endeavours.

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

The most valuable part of the AMSI Summer School program for me was a combination of both the course content and the people I met. The course content provided a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the latest research and developments in my field, which I found to be extremely enlightening and inspiring. Additionally, the opportunity to network with students and professionals in my field was invaluable. It was really exciting to connect with the industry and get to know related people in different fields. The exchange of ideas and perspectives with people from diverse backgrounds has been truly eye-opening, and I have formed many meaningful connections that I am certain will have a positive impact on my future academic and professional pursuits.

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

Attending the AMSI Summer School has long-term benefits in terms of gaining a deeper understanding of the latest research, networking opportunities, skill development, and improving job market competitiveness. It was an excellent investment in my future that will benefit me for many years to come. Furthermore, the networking opportunities I had at the summer school will allow me to collaborate on future projects with other students and professionals in my field, resulting in the exchange of ideas and perspectives and the formation of new partnerships. This will improve my ability to deal with complex problems and spur innovation in my field. I believe that attending the AMSI Summer School was a valuable investment in my future, and I am confident that its benefits will continue to be felt for years to come.

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?

Before attending the AMSI Summer School, I was aware of some of the industry opportunities available to mathematical science graduates, but I have to admit that the Careers Day program was an eye-opener for me. The AMSI Summer School has equipped me with a better understanding of the kinds of career paths available to me as a mathematical science graduate. Although almost all of them were data analysis related, the Careers Day program has given me a clearer perspective on my future career prospects.

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

I would encourage all math students to apply for AMSI Summer School in 2024 because it offers high-quality education, a wide range of subjects, networking opportunities, exposure to different teaching styles, and a supportive environment. All these together can have a significant impact on improving the future of academic work and finding a suitable job after graduation.

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

I see myself as a researcher. I aim to have made significant contributions to the understanding of complex and chaotic systems and be able to use my knowledge in real-world problems such as early warning of some diseases. I hope to have established a thriving research group and be actively engaged in cutting-edge research projects, collaborating with other researchers, and mentoring the next generation of scientists.