-- Main.warwooca - 28 Jun 2019

May 2019

Maths Crafting Day

On Sunday 26th of May, a number of students and staff travelled to Martinborough to volunteer at the Martinborough MathsCraft Day. MathsCraft events are dedicated to engaging the public with maths by exploring the mathematics of various crafts such as knitting, crochet, knots and origami. Activities for this event included flexagons, mobius strips, fractal menger sponges and origami polyhedra. We had several staff helping out with the planning of the day and several students helped out on the day. A special thank you to Michal, Lingyan and Grace for dedicating some time to some cool maths!

Crafts were targeted at entry level, so they were accessible to people of all ages and skill levels, and indeed we had everyone from very young children through to nonagenarians. There were approximately 450 participants - not bad in a town of less than 1700! But people also came from as far away as Wellington or Palmerston North to attend the event.

There were also three well-attended public talks, by Hinke Osinga, Bernd Krauskopf and Eugenia Cheng, on how concepts such as chaos and infinity intersect art and craft.

All the volunteers had an amazing time, and the atmosphere on the day was enthusiastic and welcoming. One Martinborough resident asked if we could hold MathsCraft every Sunday!

For more information about MathsCraft, see http://www.mathscraftnz.org/

Postgraduate Information Session

Thanks to everyone that popped along to the Postgraduate Information session to connect with undergraduates and let them know about postgraduate life. There has been lots of great feedback from the students about the information they received about courses aswell getting a genuine picture of what postgraduate study was like. It was pretty short notice that I was asked to invite you guys to attend, but for those of you that could make it - it was invaluable to those students. Thanks again.

Thesis Students Page

We have set up a landing page for each of you to add you study details and your interests. This page is for your benefit to apply for scholarships, jobs and conferences as you need to - it will serve as a good background to your academic life. You should be able to edit your own page and add photos etc as you wish. Just scroll to the bottom and hit edit on your profile.

The pages can be found at this link here or from the SMS department homepage > About Us > Thesis Students. Alternatively, send through a small blurb, details on publications/collaborations, and your interests to Caitlin.

If anyone is having trouble editing their page, email Caitlin to get it sorted.

SMS Research Committee Member Wanted!

The School of Maths and Stats Marketing and Comms committee is looking at revamping the research page on our department website. The aim to update the page, make it a bit more vibrant & lively and to engage with prospective researchers such as yourselves. The committee would like some student input in the redesign and is looking for someone engaged in research, mathematics or statistics and website usage to provide a student view on the pages development. Check out the page here - and if you have some ideas on how to develop the page get in touch with Caitlin.


The scholarships page has been revamped to be more user friendly when it comes to searching for scholarship opportunities. If you would like to continue your studies, I highly recommend checking it out. From a quick glance there are currently 14 Mathematics focused scholarships availiable and 10 statistics focused - so plently of opportunities. We are here to support you with your applications so have a chat to your supervisor if you see something of interest.

Rutherford Post-doc Fellowships

For those of you nearing the end of your PhDs, the Research Office is starting to release some information on upcoming Rutherford Fellowships for Postdocs. The closing date for applications has not been announced yet but Ivy has suggested it is usually towards the end of July/ early August. Applicants must have had their PhD conferred no more than 4 years prior to the closing date, expemtions in applications can be sought if the applicants PhD has been submitted prior to the closing date but is still under examination (this will need to be requested through the Royal Society - so let us know if you ASAP). Applicants must be an NZ citizen, NZ resident visa holder or have resided in NZ for at least 2 years continuously before their application.

Successful applicant will receive $75k towards their salary and $10k towards research costs.

If you would like more information, check it out here. Alternatively, as the closing dates are announced, more detail will be advertised by the Research Office and in Victoria newsletters.

PG Meeting

The monthly Postgraduate meeting took place on the 29th of May in CO431. Minutes of the meeting can be found here (page unlinked).

The next Postgraduate meeting is booked for Friday 28th June, 1pm-2pm in CO431

Please send through any agenda items for this or the next meeting to Caitlin.

Health and Wellbeing

Wellness Tips

Being active is important to both your physical and emotional wellbeing. Being physically active has been proven to improve mood, decrease stress, depression and anxiety. Being active with others can be a good way of building relationships while improving your wellbeing. The Recreation Centre has heaps of classes and activities availiable for students - check them out here. Even something as simple as going for a lunchtime walk with your colleagues can go a long way in maintaining your mental well being.
Pink Shirt Day

A special thank you to everyone that popped along to the Pink Shirt Day morning tea. It is really great that such a kind and important message resonates with so many of you. Although Pink Shirt Day was originally targetted at reducing bullying against the LGBT community on campuses, I think we can all take some valuable messages from engaging with the event. Morning teas like this are not only a great time to support a valuable community message, but also serve as a great opportunity to connect with other staff and collegaues. There were many great chats had and the morning tea lasted much longer than intended. So thank you all again for making it a wonderful break from work on a Friday.

Upcoming SMS Events

Careers in Focus

This evening is aimed at answering some of your questions about employment opportunities in Mathematics and Statistics while also giving you a chance to connect with prospective employers around the city. The format of the evening is a panel discussion with various employeers followed by nibbles and a networking session. The event will be taking place on the 23rd of July from 5pm in AM102 & 104.

FGR Events

The Faculty of Graduate Research has announced an assortment of scholarships coming up in June. If you are interested in applying, check them out on Libcal, the FGR workshops page or follow the links below.

PhD: Doctoring the Job Search (June19th 10:30am-1pm MY632)

This workshop is designed to help PhD students prepare for employment after finishing their PhD. The workshop will be run by Millie Douglas who is a consultant at Careers and Employment. If you are interested in attending this workshop - check it out here.

PhD: Publishing and peer review (June 25th 9am-12:30pm RHMZ03)

Dr Nick Hopwood specializes in adult learning but is highly active in discussing the realities of publishing. He is active on twitter (@NHopUTS), his blog, and youtube in discussing academic life and publishing. Nick will be hosting this workshop as a visiting lecturer from the University of Technology in Sydney. He will be discussing what's new in academic journal publishing and how to navigate the peer review system with your paper and integrity intact. If you are interested in attending, check it out here.

PhD: Writing amazing abstracts (June 25th 1:30pm-5pm RHMZ03)

As mentioned above, Dr Nick Hopwood specializes in adult learning but is highly active in discussing the realities of publishing. He is active on twitter (@NHopUTS), his blog, and youtube in discussing academic life and publishing. Nick will be hosting this workshop as a visiting lecturer from the University of Technology in Sydney. In this workshop he will be developing your skills in analysing, crafting and evaluating journal and conference paper abstracts. This will be done by:
  • Presenting a formula for the conceptual and written structure of abstracts
  • Ecploring examples of real abstracts
  • Considering how abstracts can be used as thinking tools to help write good papers
  • Allowing participants to review each others abstracts and provide feedback
If you would like more information on this workshop - check it out here.

PhD: Making the most of research supervision (June 26th 9am-12:30pm RHMZ03)

As mentioned above, Dr Nick Hopwood specializes in adult learning but is highly active in discussing the realities of publishing. He is active on twitter (@NHopUTS), his blog, and youtube in discussing academic life and publishing. Nick will be hosting this workshop as a visiting lecturer from the University of Technology in Sydney. This workshop will cover how to make the most of your research supervision and will provide some tools on how to troubleshoot common issues in working with supervisors. To register visit this page.

Shut Up and Write Sessions

We continue to run Shut Up and Write sessions every week on all three campuses throughout the year. If you would like to benefit from being part of a supportive writing group, come and join us!

Kelburn: Tuesdays 2-3pm and Wednesdays 9-10am, Milk and Honey

Te Aro: Thursdays 10-11am, VS119 (in the Architecture Library)

Pipitea: Fridays 10-11am, Rutherford House 420

Workshops of Interest

Non-Perturbative Methods in Quantum Field Theory (3-6 September: Giambiagi Lecture Hall, Trieste, Italy)

This workshop covers a series of talks on different complementary approaches to non-perturbative quantum field theories. Topics include:
    • 3d Dualities
    • S-Matrix Bootstrap
    • Resurgence
    • T-Tbar Deformations
    • Hamiltonian Truncation
    • Lattice QFT
The application deadline is the 2nd of June and there is no registration fee, for more information visit their website.
Mathematics in Industry NZ Study Group - (24-28 June, University of Auckland)

MINZ Study groups tackle real industry problems with group brainstorming sessions, usually these sessions result in publications and good networking opportunities. The event is free but requires registration at www.minz.org.nz. This years challenges include:
  • Transpower Challenge: Decompose aggregate energy consumption data into various load types to increase power system efficiency and reliability

    Transpower owns and operates the core power system for New Zealand. This system delivers energy generation to energy consumption via a high voltage AC transmission network (a.k.a. the grid). Ensuring efficient and reliable delivery is a complex task, requiring contingency planning to maintain system frequency and voltage. Doing this well means being able to run more low carbon, renewable, generation which is intermittent in nature compared to coal or gas fired plant. It also means preventing cascade asset failure leading to widespread blackouts. Transpower can increase efficiency and reliability by increasing their understanding of what comprises the energy consumption at a point of offtake from the grid. This will be especially important in the future with expected uptake of household solar generation, batteries, electric vehicles and home energy management systems.

    Transpower sees one value for energy consumption per offtake point, but this represents a net value of various consumption types - e.g. air conditioning, dryers, lights, LED lights, small industrial – and generation types – e.g. small wind farms or hydro plant. By utilising highly frequent offtake data, Transpower wants to estimate the amount of each component, in particular the typical range of variation. This will help them determine requirements for reliable supply. For instance, because different offtake types have different impacts on an AC power system, e.g. how much inductance they create, or whether they provide reactive support, knowing how much of one component exists in a given location will allow planning of what reactive power is required from generation or reactive plant such as Static Var Compensators.

  • Sanford Challenge: Optimising float design and performance

    The buoys that float the mussel lines used by Sanford must be able to withstand a variety of different conditions, both in terms of loadings, ease of handling, and environment. This challenge will seek to quantify the mechanical loadings on these buoys under different conditions, and inform ways in which their design can be optimised to provide the best overall performance. Some of the factors to be considered include:

    i) Stress-Strain relationships

    ii) Hydrodynamic Loadings

    iii) Transport and storage safety

    iv) Cost and production

    v) Biofouling

    vi) Safety

    vii) Longevity and robustness

  • Fonterra Challenge: Using Raman Spectroscopy to Develop New Dairy Products: The Mathematics of Shining Lasers Through Cheese

    Industry Reps: Lisa Thomasen & Liz Nickless

    Inside the Fonterra Research & Development Centre in Palmerston North, there are teams working to create new innovative dairy products to share with the world. One of these teams is working on mozzarella cheese for pizza, cheese slices for burgers and other delicious cheeses. Cheese making has been around for centuries, but we’re working on making cheese bigger and better.

    As part of the cheese making process, we have a team that shines lasers through cheese and gathers spectral data to generate microstructural images of the cheese. We use our Raman Spectrometer to shine lasers through shreds of mozzarella and slices of processed cheese to help us to understand the cheese composition on a microscopic level. Raman spectroscopy is used in food manufacture to identify molecules and study chemical bonding. In dairy products such as cheese, this allows us to understand the composition of the cheese with respect to fat, protein and moisture content.

    As fun as it sounds, shining lasers through cheese is actually quite time consuming. We are keen to understand how many samples we need to take from a given product to be confident that the results are representative of the product as a whole. Some cheeses are homogenous in composition, while others are non-homogenous. It suffices to say that whether you’re eating it, or shining lasers through it, one slice of cheese is never enough!

    Once we’ve shined lasers through two different batches of cheese, it can be challenging to determine whether the differences between them are big enough to be significant. The multi-dimensionality of the Raman spectral data makes this especially difficult. We’re hoping the MINZ team can work with us to define some metrics from the Raman spectral data to give us a reproducible way of detecting real differences between samples.

  • Mercury Challenge: How can Mercury improve the generation efficiency of the Waikato hydro scheme

    Mercury is an electricity generator and retailer with a long heritage in renewable electricity generation. Our Waikato Hydro Scheme is a chain of nine hydroelectric dams along the Waikato River. The gravitational energy of the water that runs down the river from Lake Taupo and through our power stations generates around 10% of New Zealand’s annual electricity generation. Mercury continues to invest in maintaining our hydro assets, building on the legacy of those who created them over the course of nearly a century so that they contribute to the future of local communities and to New Zealand for many decades to come.

    Our team of Hydro Controllers work 24/7, running 39 generating units across the nine power stations on the River to generate electricity, responding to real-time national demand for power. This is a complex process requiring Hydro Controllers to draw on years of experience as well as input and support from other teams, to do this effectively.

    Mercury is interested in investigating whether using mathematical models and optimisation algorithms can provide incremental gains in the generation efficiency of the Waikato Hydro Scheme.

    There are several factors that influence generation efficiency, including:

    • Mercury’s electricity generation forecast
    • The water levels in each of the dams along the river
    • Rainfall and tributary flows feeding the river
    • Design of the hydro turbines
    • Generation unit outages at power stations

How can Mercury improve the generation efficiency of the Waikato Hydro Scheme?

How does altering the electricity generation plan affect this efficiency? :

If you would like more information on MINZ Study Groups, get in touch with Mark McGuinness.

Conferences of Interest

It may not be well advertised, but there is a poster board with upcoming conferences in the CO359 (the big printer room next to the office). Information will be shared here but for more detail, check out the poster space.
Quantum Theory and Symmetries (1-5 July 2019: Centre De Recherches Mathematiques, Montreal, Canada)

This symposium series brings togethe physicists and mathematicians who have been working on symmetry, geometric methods, group theory, Lie algebras and non-linear in the context of possible applications in modern quantum physics.

For more information on speakers, partners and the conference visit: http://www.crm.math.ca/QTS2019/
Hausdorff School on MCMC: Recent developments and new connections (30 March - 3 April: Lipschitz-Saal, Bonn, Germany)

This conference covers a series of talks from a wide variety of speakers specialising in Markov Chain Monte Carlo. This conference follows up on a series of workshops from the weekend of March 28-29. Applications close on the 30th September. For more information and questions visit the event page here.