Graphs, brownies and a one-way ticket to Oxford

Publication date
Friday, 12 Apr 2019

When Jane Tan and Adele Jackson first met at the PhB program student retreat at Kioloa, they probably didn’t think that their paths would become so intertwined. 

Now more than four years later from that first encounter, they are both heading to Oxford to start a PhD in mathematics. 

“I almost didn’t complete my application,” says Jane, former honours student at the Mathematical Sciences Institute (MSI), and one of the recipients of the 2018 University Medal. “I thought I didn’t have much chance to get a scholarship, but in the end, all of my letter writers submitted their letters on time, so I thought I might as well give it a go!” 

Being able to participate in complex projects and getting access to high-level courses in the early stages of their studies has been crucial in securing a spot at Oxford. “In my undergrad, I did a course on algebraic number theory with James Borger. Usually these courses are offered in grad school, so I probably wouldn’t been able to get in without those skills,” says Adele. 

They both agree that the excellent quality of the lecturers and having close access to their supervisors has also been important. “The MSI staff are very supportive and the topology crowd is very active, they are always around to help” mentions Jane, who will be studying a PhD in combinatorics and graph theory. 

As for Adele, her PhD will be focused on 3-manifold topology, which could eventually explain the shape of our universe. 

Both students had always had a passion for maths from a very young age. “I like maths because I get to wake up every day and think about really interesting problems. Doesn't get much better!” concludes Adele. For Jane, the reason why she loves maths is even simpler “it just makes me happy.”

In just a few months, these two students who bonded over brownies at study sessions will be able to pursue their love for maths overlooking the beautiful landscape of ‘the city of dreaming spires.’

Follow your passion for maths with Honours in Mathematics at the Mathematical Sciences Institute.