Matthew Langford is a PhD student at MSI. We asked him some questions about his experience as a research student here at MSI.
What is your field of interest?
I am interested in several areas of differential geometry, including but not limited to Riemannian geometry, semi-Riemannian geometry, general relativity, differential geometry in the large, and the study of geometric heat-type equations and their applications.
My thesis is focused on understanding the long term behaviour of curvature driven heat-type equations, the prototype of which is the mean curvature flow. Many applications for these equations have been found in differential geometry and other areas of mathematics (eg proof of the Riemannian Penrose inequality) as well as in image processing, the modelling of moving interfaces and phase changes, and modelling of reaction-diffusion systems which occur in mathematical biology.
Where are you from?
I grew up in a small town in the Upper Hunter Valley in NSW, from which it seemed natural for me to attend university at the University of Newcastle. After spending a semester abroad, I returned to Newcastle to complete my undergraduate studies in mathematics and physics. I then made contact with a researcher at ANU, who offered me an honours project. I was, of course, delighted to accept. I completed that last year and, after undertaking a small research project at the University of Newcastle over the summer and holidaying in South America and Germany, have since started research toward a PhD.
What experience have you gained as a student at MSI?
Besides learning some sweet maths, I can now give a talk without shaking like a junkie, I can tutor a class of undergraduates, write and give lessons for a high school class (which is somewhat more difficult) and organise a weekly seminar. I have also attended several conferences and workshops.
What has been the highlight?
Spending a month doing research in Beijing at China's number one university. All expenses paid. Four and a half star hotel and all. Proving theorems with a colleague while hiking on the great wall was rather cool.
What have you learnt about yourself during your time here?
I've learned that I'm capable of undertaking research independently and collaboratively.
What do you see yourself doing when you complete your study?
I'm loving life as a maths researcher, so I'd be delighted to pick up a post-doc when I'm done (perhaps in the Caribbean?).
Would you recommend undertaking a PhD at MSI?
Why wouldn't I? The opportunities that are available to me at the MSI are incredible. I've been the benefactor of travel grants to participate in national and international conferences, I've had the pleasure of brainstorming (and drinking) with world class researchers and have been given steady employement as a tutor/marker/research assistant/summer scholars coordinator. And let's not forget the (in)famous wine and cheese nights...