A winning formula: graduate program launches maths careers

Seven of Australia’s top graduates in mathematics, statistics and engineering have started with CSIRO in a new program that is bridging the gap between finishing a university degree and starting a research career in the mathematical sciences.

The two-year Graduate Fellows program is putting graduates at the forefront of CSIRO research, working on projects as diverse as disease surveillance, image analysis, 3D modelling of human digestion, environmental statistics, modelling tsunamis and predicting the properties of rocks for the oil and gas industry.

The program is tackling dwindling numbers of graduates in the mathematical sciences  a worrying trend for Australia.

CSIRO’s mathematicians and statisticians are the foundation for our science, delivering results for mining and manufacturing, health, human services and the environment.” said Dr Louise Ryan, Chief of CSIRO’s Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics.

“Talented graduates in the quantitative sciences are needed for Australia to be at the forefront of science and business in the global marketplace” said Ryan

“We think we are onto a winning formula with this program. The graduates get a taste for real research, mentorship with Australia’s top researchers, a chance to develop their communication skills and the opportunity to travel to an international conference to present their work”.

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The program takes an apprentice approach, where the graduates are mentored by leading CSIRO research scientists and will rotate through a range of exciting projects over two years. Some of these include:

  • Mitchell Buckley, Sydney, is working on mathematical algorithms to drive the software behind an automated discovery system to reconstruct three-dimensional models of plants and insects from multiple 2D images.
  • Jenny Frieden, Brisbane, has just returned from a year as an Australia Youth Ambassador in Mongolia. Jenny is developing new statistical methods to analyse environmental data. She is looking at areas including water quality, fisheries, pollutants in Queensland rivers and ecosystem health.
  • Cyndi Wang, Melbourne, started her career as an air stewardess five years ago she is now working with one of the world’s top computational modelling teams using her background in biomedical engineering to create a digital model of the human digestive tract, to help CSIRO scientists study how food breaks down.
  • Sarah Bolt, Sydney, is analysing emergency department data from QLD Health to help predict and detect outbreaks in common syndromes such as the flu. She’s also working on analysing social worker resources across Centrelink to help improve resource efficiency and service delivery as part of the CSIRO’s Human Services Delivery Research Alliance with Centrelink.

As part of their two-year fellowship training the 2010 cohort will be in Sydney this week for presentation and media skills training and will have a chance to present their research to their CSIRO peers.

Applications for the 2011 Graduate Fellowships will open in September and will be advertised on CSIRO Careers Online.

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