A winning formula: graduate program launches maths careers

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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.

Chief Scientist of CSIRO Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics Frank de Hoog said mathematicians and statisticians were vital in a number of areas including mining and manufacturing, health, human services and the environment.

“Talented graduates in the quantitative sciences are needed for Australia to be at the forefront of science and business in the global marketplace,” Dr de Hoog said.

“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 presentation and media skills and the opportunity to travel to an international conference to present their work.”

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

Some of the graduates and the work they will be doing 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, 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, working in a computational modelling team to create a digital model of the gastrointestinal tract, to help doctors understand the internal processes of digestion.
  • 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.

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

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