In AMSI scholarship recipient

Zhongtian Chen

The University of Melbourne

Zhongtian is a first year PhD student at the University of Melbourne. His interests are around representation theory and algebraic geometry. He started his PhD project in the Springer Correspondence recently under the supervision of Dr Ting Xue and Dr Gufang Zhao. Zhongtian started his undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne. It was at that time he grew his interest in mathematics. In his undergraduate study, he had a broad interest in mathematics, such as geometric group theory, low-dimensional topology and representation theory. After obtained his undergraduate degree, he continued to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Melbourne. At that time, he did a research project with Dr Gufang Zhao in representation theory. More precisely, Dr Gufang and Zhongtian studied certain coherent sheaves on a spectral curve in 3-fold, known as stable pair, and they found a product formula, analogous to Ngô’s product formula which gives a description of Hitchin fiber in terms of affine Springer fibers, describing stable pairs in terms of a notion of affine Springer fibers for a commuting pair in Lie algebra. After obtained his master’s degree in 2021, Zhongtian took a gap because of the pandemic and started his PhD course recently.

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

I’m currently studying representation theory. Representation theory is a branch of mathematics which studies algebraic structures by looking at their effect on vector spaces. Representation theory is useful because it reduces problems in abstract algebra to problems in linear algebra which is well-understood.

How did you get into mathematics and into the area of Representation Theory? Was there someone or something that inspired you to this field?

I grew my interest in mathematics from a first-year linear algebra course. The lecturer, Dr Lawrence Reeves, inspired me and helped me to appreciate the beauty of mathematics. Then later on my study, my master supervisor, Dr Gufang Zhao, guided me into the area of Representation Theory.

You received a grant to attend AMSI Winter 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 grant played an essential role. Without this grant, I wouldn’t be able to fully participate in the program.

Winter School is designed to give students a deeper understanding of their area of research and expose them to others working in different fields/industries. 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 for me is that I get the opportunity to meet cohort working in the same area and establish my own network. As a starting PhD student, talking to these strong (in math) and nice (in person) people really inspired me.

AMSI-MSRI Winter School was held as a hybrid event with event hubs in Australia and America. What was the biggest positive from your point of view holding it in this format and/or the biggest challenge?

It was very challenge to communicate with people in the other hub.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for Winter School in 2023? How would you describe the conference to them? Should they apply and why?

I would surely recommend he or she to participate the winter school. The conference is a precious opportunity to meet other people who are also working in the same area.

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

If I’m good enough, I would continue to do research in mathematics.

Any other feedback/comments you would like to provide on the AMSI Scholarship or AMSI-MSRI Winter School 2022?

The conference was an amazing experience to me. All the people (speakers, students, staffs) are fantastic. I should mention that without the organizers’ consistent help when I was applying, I would not be able to participate in the program. I do appreciate their work.

It would be even better if there is a better way to communicate with people in the other hub (I understand it is very challenging and it might already be at its best).