AMSI’s Summer of Maths

Heat waves didn’t deter AMSI Students from having an action packed summer. We had record attendance at all our events: BioInfoSummer, Summer School and Vacation Research Scholarship (VRS). And CSIRO’s Big Day In provided a great occasion to celebrate the hard work of some of our brightest.

Inspiring our students were Terry Speed, world renowned bioinformatician and 2013 Prime Minister Prize for Science recipient, Ron Sandland, eminent Australian statistician and former Deputy Chief Executive of CSIRO, and Chris Krishna-Pillay, science performer and Victorian Manager of CSIRO Education.

The Univeristy of Adelaide did such a stellar job of BioInfoSummer 2012 that we had record numbers join in for the 2013 event. Professor Terry Speed gave the opening address and after the event he commented on the outstanding people that were involved. He said: “In my opinion, this year was the most successful, not just in the large numbers that came along, but in the reach to the different fields of science. It wasn’t just the mathematically-inclined people from universities and research institutes who came along, but others from health, agriculture and other bio fields."

To showcase the work that is being done in industry two AMSI Interns presented their projects. Milicia Ng talked about how the her skills, and diverse background, in computer science, mathematics and engineering helped to establish an innovative way for CSL to store and analyse biological data. And Sori Kang got into the nitty gritty of human cancer genomics. Her project had a special emphasis on the application of high throughput DNA sequencing in developing new cancer treatments.

Professor Stephen Donnellan gave a public lecture about how we can unravel evolution’s mysteries using genomes and computers. It was great to see members of the general public get involved, inspired and ask questions. The lecture was really accessible and a highlight amongst delegates.

The ANU kept the record-breaking momentum in-check with the 2014 AMSI Summer School. This year we actually shared a subject with the Physics Summer School – a fantastic initiative to promote the fact that the borders between scientific disciplines must be broken down.

Students were able to discuss and discover future employment opportunities at the careers session. And were inspired by the Women in Mathematics networking event. The Australian Bureau of Statistics and CSIRO sent some of their experts along to illustrate the kind of R&D they are currently undertaking and wish to pursue into the future.

In a one-hour free public lecture Professor Michael Barnsley introduced everyone to the exotic world of fractals. He talked about how they are used to give state-of-the-art cameras variable focal lengths, which maintain the original perspective of the scene. In an interview before the event Barnsley said: "The wild, natural world is full of shapes and forms that can be best described using fractals. Since my first microscope, I have been fascinated by the hidden world revealed by magnification. In this lecture I hope to explain how this magical experience is related to the mathematics of fractals.”

56 students presented their VRS projects at CSIRO's Big Day In – congratulations to Thomas Moore (UQ) and Melissa Lee (UWA) who won the Cambridge University Press Book Prizes for the best presentations at Big Day In. To see last projects and reports see: www.amsi.org.au/vrs

At all these wonderful events students didn’t just hone their skills; they also networked at dinners, BBQ's, interactive lectures and poster sessions.

A big thank you to all the event Directors whose contributions and hard work made these event possible: Gary Glonek, David Adelson – BioInfoSummer, Stephen Roberts – Summer School and Samantha Barry and Hayley Janmaat – Big Day In.

See the event photos:  

Summer School 2014

Vacation Research Scholarships 2013/14

BioInfoSummer 2013