CHOOSEMATHS Grant Recipient: Cassie Marshall

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CHOOSEMATHS Grant Recipient: Cassie Marshall

Cassie Marshall

University of Adelaide

Cassie is a student studying honours level mathematics at the University of Adelaide. She completed  her BSc at the University of Queensland at the end of 2017, with a major in mathematics. During her degree, she explored other areas of science; such as chemistry, biology and geography. Taking a keen interest in evolutionary biology, she tailored her mathematics to support her goal of becoming a mathematical biologist.

Cassie’s honours project is based on population modelling, using stochastic processes and differential equations. A lot of her work is done using Matlab. Once the year is over, she aims to find a place in the graduate program for the Department of Agriculture (and Fisheries) to use her modelling skills to help write policies and protect the environment.

Can you give me a quick overview of the type of mathematics you are studying and its potential impacts for the broader community

I study applied mathematics, with particular interest in population dynamics. My honours project is based around using stochastic and deterministic ODE models to investigate the process of unicellular life evolving into multicellular life, focusing on ecological factors that may have come into play

You received a CHOOSEMATHS Grant to assist your attendance at AMSI Summer School 2018. How important was this in terms of your ability to attend and fully participate in the sessions throughout the program?

My attendance to AMSI summer school was conditional on receiving the grant. As a student living out of home, I do not have a dispensable income. So being away for a month meant no income, but many more expenses to pay. The grant allowed me not to worry about my financial situation, and allowed me to participate fully.

How important are initiatives such as the CHOOSEMATHS Grants in terms of fostering the participation and achievement of women in mathematics, particularly in terms of access to networking opportunities and further training opportunities?

I have never felt like I have excelled at mathematics in any way (despite trying very, very hard to). I often feel overshadowed by others, and given that my degree has been mostly male dominated, I have never had opportunities as they have outside of programs that foster women in mathematics. These initiatives give me these opportunities, and I am very grateful for that fact.

In what ways has the experience impacted your maths studies? Has it influenced the direction of your research?

I found the course I took (statistical machine learning) very difficult. Summer school pushed me very hard, and for most of the experience I was thinking I don’t belong here. That I couldn’t do it. Now having gotten through it, I feel much more wiser as a mathematician. I am so glad I took the opportunity.

What was the most valuable part of AMSI Summer School 2018 for you in terms of furthering your career in mathematical sciences?

What was the most valuable part of AMSI Summer School 2018 for you in terms of furthering your career in mathematical sciences? Taking a course that my university doesn’t offer, because I believe statistical machine learning will be a valuable skill in the workforce at some point in my career.

A presentation on the AMSI Intern program was included as part of the Careers Afternoon. One of the aims of the AMSI Intern program is to maximise employability and help prepare research graduates to drive industry/private sector research. Are you hoping to work with industry? How important is this experience for researchers? Particularly in terms of offering career flexibility for women?

A presentation on the AMSI Intern program was included as part of the Careers Afternoon. One of the aims of the AMSI Intern program is to maximise employability and help prepare research graduates to drive industry/private sector research. Are you hoping to work with industry? How important is this experience for researchers? Particularly in terms of offering career flexibility for women? Yes I want to work in industry, I do not think research is for me. As for the other two questions, I feel a little indifferent. I suppose it’s reassuring knowing that industry is addressing problems that women do face in the workforce.

The CHOOSEMATHS Grants are part of a broader program being delivered by AMSI Schools with support from BHP Billiton to turn the tide on Australia’s maths deficit and strengthen maths education and participation of women across the discipline. What do you see as the big challenges facing maths in Australia, particularly for women?

The CHOOSEMATHS Grants are part of a broader program being delivered by AMSI Schools with support from BHP Billiton to turn the tide on Australia’s maths deficit and strengthen maths education and participation of women across the discipline. What do you see as the big challenges facing maths in Australia, particularly for women? I don’t think I know enough about this to answer this one, sorry.

Did you always want to pursue a career in maths? Were you encouraged to study these subjects at school? Do any particular mentors come to mind? Any outstanding teachers?

Did you always want to pursue a career in maths? Were you encouraged to study these subjects at school? Do any particular mentors come to mind? Any outstanding teachers? The reason I wanted to pursue maths in the first place was because of my big brother. I have always looked up to him, and he has always been very clever and always excelled in STEM things. I remember when I was 14 I thought to myself “I want to be just like him”, and so I took the same math subjects as he and then ended up doing the same degree as him. He works at BOM now, and he’s rather successful.

Where do you see yourself in five, ten years time?

Where do you see yourself in five, ten years time? I have no idea. I know I want to pursue population dynamics, but given how competitive the industry is I am not hopeful I’ll make it there anytime soon (especially without a PHD).

Any other feedback/comments you would like to provide on the CHOOSEMATHS grant or AMSI Summer School 2018?

You guys did great

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