High school STEM inspires journey to pioneering research into wave modelling

3 November 2020

His passion for mathematics was ignited in high school when one of his teachers presented students with a problem asking how many lines could connect a certain number of points. Jordan originally thought the problem couldn’t be solved, but after being shown the solution, he was inspired to work at expanding this solution at home. It was then he began to think “Ok, this maths thing, it’s fascinating stuff.”

Today Jordan Pitt holds a research post-doctoral fellowship with the ANU Mathematical Sciences Institute (MSI). His current research involves water wave modelling, with a view to tsunami modelling.

After graduating from a Bachelor of Science Advanced Honours, Jordan merged his interests in computers and maths, enrolling in a PhD at MSI. His research looked at numerical wave modelling which is all about the transfer of mathematical knowledge into computer algorithms.

When asked about the rewarding aspects of studying at ANU he said “It sounds like a clichéd answer but it’s the people I’ve worked with over the years. I’ve built strong relationships and we have had the opportunity to see each other grow. I love the community here at MSI. People talk to each other about what they’re working on and there’s so much interesting research going on.”

In 2019, upon completion of his doctoral studies, Jordan was awarded an MSI “Kick-start” Postdoctoral Fellowship. The fellowship provides completed PhD students with a short-term employment opportunity, bridging the period between submitting their thesis and securing longer-term postdoctoral employment. “You’re not crashing out of your PhD into nothing” explains Jordan. “The fellowship gave me the opportunity to connect with other researchers, whilst allowing me to give back to the MSI community by helping other researchers with their work. There are a lot of projects that could use a little extra work. The Kick-start Fellowship is a unique opportunity. I was able to stay at MSI, undertake further research whilst absorbing knowledge and learning from the expertise of my colleagues.”

Jordan was encouraged to apply for the Fellowship by his PhD supervisor Steve Roberts. “It really speaks to the relationship and rapport MSI supervisors build with their students. They’re genuinely looking to help you and are acutely aware of what MSI, ANU and the academic community have to offer. They always helped me to look for ways I could push forward”.

For students with an interest in studying maths at ANU, Jordan says “Just do it. Mathematics is the most useful and reliable compass for all journeys of inquiry. The skills you learn along the way will benefit you no matter the destination, especially as the world becomes more data-driven, digital and complex. I would recommend in particular, a focus on strong mathematical and computational foundations for all prospective students. At MSI you will receive a lot of support. It’s housed in lovely new facility with access to the latest software, and a close connection to the computer science group which is fantastic.”