Postgraduate student profiles
Working on discrete integrable systems in his PhD research in the School of Mathematics and Statistics, Samuel Butler works at the theoretical end of applied mathematics.
"My work is at the border between applied and pure mathematics. These equations I work on have only been looked at in the last thirty years or so - discrete integrable systems is a relatively new area in mathematics," said Samuel.
His work involves solving discrete integrable equations that exist on discrete data points within a lattice.
Samuel completed his Bachelor of Science in Advanced Mathematics degree with Honours in Mathematics at the University of Sydney, and continued straight into his PhD with supervisor Professor Nalini Joshi.
"I have always enjoyed mathematics so it seemed like the natural choice to continue studying it after finishing my honours year."
Winning the Philipp Hofflin International Research Travel Scholarship, from the School of Mathematics and Statistics, allowed Samuel to spend five months working with discrete integrable systems groups in Europe.
"I was able to learn from, discuss my own work with and feel part of these different research groups at Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris and the University of Leeds, plus attend conferences in Russia and The Netherlands," said Samuel.
"It was seriously good networking, which will help my future career in mathematics."
Michael Petrozzi did a PhD in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney, studying the transport and dispersion of contaminants in natural streams. His research focused on how contaminants discharged from landfill sites can be managed so as to minimise their impact on the environment. The information Michael gathered is also useful in the case of accidental spills. "If there's a spill, you can know where it will be at a certain point and what its concentration is likely to be, so you can clean it up efficiently," he explains.
Michael then established his own environmental consulting business, Consulting Earth Scientists, specialising in landfill and contaminated site consulting.
"The best thing about what I was studying in my PhD was that I could see the ways in which the 'real world' needed this knowledge. There was a very definite link between my research and consultancy and I believe I found my niche".
Michael's PhD was funded in part by Waste Service NSW and The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). Much of Michael's initial consulting work was with Waste Service NSW. He feels that the experience he gained during his PhD prepared him for the work he is doing now.
"There are a number of large firms that consult in this area," says Michael, "But we distinguish ourselves on the basis of our qualifications, ability to develop practical cost-effective solutions, and good customer service."
In July 2011, Michael sold Consulting Earth Scientists and started a new mining company, Macquarie Drilling Pty Ltd. It ranked #46 in the 2011 BRW Business Magazine's 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Australia.
Bridget Murphy is a PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney. She has made the first discovery in nature of a potent cancer protein - VEGF111 – that scientists have previously only found in laboratory-grown cells. Her discovery of VEGF111 in the uterus of an Australian lizard, the three-toed skink Saiphos equalis, provides a new link between the evolution of live birth and cancer in animals. Her fascinating research and ability to explain it to non-scientists has made her a Fresh Science winner in 2010.
Bridget completed her Bachelor of Science (Advanced) with First Class Honours at the University of Sydney from 2004 until 2007, then started her PhD in Biology in 2008.