Archived Newsletters can be accessed here.

August 2021

Congratulations Akib Mohammad and Lindsay Morris

This month SMS had 2 confirmed PhD completions. Both Akib Mohammad and Lindsay Morris are now awaiting graduation to become offical Drs.

Lindsay worked under the supervision of Nokuthaba Sibanda on "Spatio-temporal modelling for non-stationary point referenced data"

Akib worked under the supervision Yuichi Hirose to complete his thesis "Profile likelihood estimation applied to the semi-parametric models of survival data"

SMS wishes both Akib and Lindsay all the best in their future endeavours and we hope they stay in touch with us.

New Students

This month we have just one new starter - Rudeep Gaur has joined us from Canterbury and will be working with Matt Visser. Rudeep will be up in CO540, and we are sure everyone will make him feel welcome once he has settled in.

Upcoming MSc & PhD Submissions

In light of the suddenness of the lockdown, the Dean of the Wellington Faculty of Graduate Research has agreed that doctoral students who were planning to submit their thesis by 31 August will have a grace period and can now submit by midnight on Monday 6 September without incurring fees for the month of September.

If you have your submission deadline during this time and have not been contacted yet. Please get in touch with Caitlin.

More information can be found on the Covid-19 Information page.

Research Excellence Awards

A gentle reminder that applications for this year's Research Excellence Awards are now open!

Postgraduate research students (Masters Research or PhD) may nominate themselves for an award, valued at $1500. The awards recognise research by VUW postgraduates that:
  • Displays academic rigour, excellence, originality, or creativity
  • Advances knowledge in the field or significantly contributes to knowledge
  • Is communicated clearly, in a way that an educated but non-expert audience can understand
  • Has a demonstrated impact within the scholarly, economic, or wider stakeholder communities
There are up to ten awards to be won, with one award offered for each faculty and one (from any faculty) for research that promotes Māori knowledge and development.

The $1500 prize is in recognition of academic excellence, not a grant for further study. As long as you have passed the proposal stage and are currently enrolled at VUW, all postgraduate research students are eligible to apply for an award.

Applicants are required to provide evidence of scholarly research (written or otherwise) in support of their application. Full information on the application and decision-making process can be found on the PGSA website.

Prizes will be announced at the Victorias Awards, scheduled to take place on 18 November.

Applications for the Research Excellence Awards close at 11.59 pm, Tuesday, 31 August, so take a look at all the information and apply now!

Upcoming Events

The Origami of Data Science - 12pm-1pm AEST 2nd September, Online Seminar

In this lecture, Distinguished Prof Kerrie Mengersen presents her work in data science in key areas of health, industry and the environment.

Many of us know about origami - where a flat square of paper is folded into a sculpture that inspires appreciation and imagination. In the same way, we might think about origami (or perhaps more accurately 'oridēta') in the context of data science, whereby a data analysis method or computational algorithm is folded into a software product that inspires interpretation and implementation.

Distinguished Professor Mengersen will discuss her attempts at the origami of data science. These include folding new methods and computational approaches into products such as an online atlas of cancer, a virtual Great Barrier Reef, an ethical social discourse platform, and a personalised learning program.

Although the foundations are statistical, our sculptures require a broad team of experts from the mathematical, statistical, and computer sciences, and they need to be appreciated, interpreted, imagined, and implemented by domain experts and users.

This lecture is 45-minute presentation followed by Q & A.

If you are interested in attending this seminar, register here.

Hypocrisy ++ - 2pm-3pm NZT 15 September, Online Seminar

What does it really mean when we discuss the 'probability' of an event?

There are two popular, but competing, philosophical theories which attempt to answer this question, usually referred to as the 'subjective' and the 'frequency' approaches. These theories are often claimed to form the foundations, respectively, of the Bayesian and frequentist interpretations of statistics.

In this public lecture, Prof Burdzy will explain why this is not actually the case, and will outline logical contradictions with both these philosophical theories.

The notion of 'hypocrisy++' arose out of Prof Burdzy's attempt to understand the popularity of these flawed philosophical theories.

Rather than being confined to the esoteric realm of the philosophy of science, however, Prof Burdzy will argue that the notion of hypocrisy++ occurs in many other settings, for example in totalitarian propaganda.

This lecture will be 45-minute presentation followed by Q & A.

If you are interested in attending this lecture, register here.


Online Event: 2nd IMA Conference on Mathematics of Robotics: 8-10 September 2021, Online Conference via Zoom

The IMA Conference on the Mathematics of Robotics aims to bring together researchers working on all areas of robotics which have a significant Mathematical content. The idea is to highlight the Mathematical depth and sophistication of techniques applicable to Robotics and to foster cooperation between researchers working in different areas of Robotics. This Conference has been organised in cooperation with the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

Topology. Kinematics. Algebraic topology of configuration spaces of robot mechanisms. Topological aspects of path planning and sensor networks. Differential topology and singularity theory of robot mechanism and moduli spaces.

Algebraic Geometry. Varieties generated by linkages and constraints. Geometry of stiffness and inertia matrices. Rigid-body motions. Computational approaches to algebraic geometry.

Dynamical Systems and Control. Dynamics of robots and mechanisms. Simulation of multi-body systems, e.g. swarm robots. Geometric control of robots. Optimal control and other optimisation problems.

Combinatorial and Stochastic Methods. Rigidity of structures. Path planning algorithms. Modular robots.

Statistics. Stochastic control. Localisation. Navigation with uncertainty. Statistical learning theory.

Cognitive Robotics. Mathematical aspects of Artificial Intelligence, Developmental Robotics and other Neuroscience based approaches.

If you are interested in attending and want more information, check out the website.

Job Opportunities

PGSA Executive Roles

Do you care about the postgraduate community? Want to understand how the university functions while adding a leadership position to your resume? Do you want to help run the PGSA?

We're looking for a new Communications Officer, and vice-president (advocacy), and vice-president (community), ideally with an intention to progress to the role of the President.

All new members of the executive will be fully trained and prepared for their roles as a part of the transition prcess. The team is a friendly, lively bunch, committed to representing postgraduates at the university level, and ensuring all postgrads feel welcome.

The PGSA needs you now more than ever as we look to fill several senior roles in the Exec. To register your interest and for more information about the roles, please email

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Professor julia wolf.jpgjpg Professor julia wolf.jpg manage 233 K 09 Mar 2020 - 11:09 Main.warwooca