Following on from our first set of interviews with Cohort 4 (see Part 1 in case you missed it), Tom and Ben are back to gain an insight into the minds of more of SAMBa's latest recruits (including 2 more Toms!).
You did your undergraduate degree in Bath and went straight to SAMBa. Not to criticise your life choices or anything, but why spend 8 years here?
Umm... It's the best programme for me, so why leave? The probability group here, Prob-L@b, is very good.
Have you always wanted to do probability?
Yes, In my undergraduate degree I specialized in probability as early as possible.
Why do you like it?
Because of the mathematical curiosities.
(We wait for him to elaborate on what this means, but his poker face is a brick wall)
You went to a conference in Berlin before starting SAMBa. How did you find that?
It was a fun experience and made me more confident in the field that I've chosen, although the topic wasn't exactly my area.
(Ben spotted some probability on the board and we started discussing bivariate subordinators and Poisson point processes. It was nice.)
I'm doing a reading course with Andreas Kyprianou which is quite intense, but it's gooood.
Would you rather be a rhino-sized hamster or hamster-sized rhino?
(Tom muses and gazes forlornly out the window, lost in silent reverie. We hold our breath in anticipation of the profound wisdom he is about to share with us. After what seems like an eternity, he looks us in the eye. We know he has found the answer in the darkest depths of his soul)
What does being SAMBa-aligned mean to you? And do you like it?
It means I can take part in SAMBa activities, but there is no obligation. Yes I like SAMBa; the ITTs are a particularly good idea. Of all the ITTs I’ve been to (exactly none) they’ve all been great, so they have a 100% success rate.
(We decide not to derail the interview by bringing his attention to the fact that 0 divided by 0 is undefined)
What's your PhD about?
I'm looking at extreme value theory for river flooding, which involves analysis of historical data from old newspapers and diaries. My work is connected to the Environment Agency who are coming to the next SAMBa ITT.
Sounds fun! Did you do a placement during your undergraduate degree?
Yes, I worked at Nectar doing some data analysis. It wasn't very mathematical but it was good to get some experience of business. I wouldn't be happy working at that level in the future, so it made me want to do something more mathematical.
What do you think about the hamster thing?
Hamster-sized rhino, because it's cute. It's ferocious but can't hurt anyone.
Abi and Alice:
What does being SAMBa-aligned mean to you?
Abi: It's sociable. I like the cohort.
Alice: My work is not very applied, but I have a lot of contact with applied maths through SAMBa.
How does doing a PhD in Bath compare to what it would have been like if you'd stayed at your previous university?
Abi: Sheffield didn't have a cohort. Everyone was quite separate.
Alice: PhD students in Italy are made to do a lot of work and have less say in what they do.
What is your PhD about?
Abi: Clinical trials
Alice: Branching processes
Abi, have you worked outside of university?
I did a placement at Cancer Research UK in the summer before coming to Bath. I looked at cluster analysis for causes of prostate cancer. We didn't find any.
Did you want to continue working in maths with health applications?
Yes. One of my PhD supervisors is from the pharmaceutical company Nevatis.
What's it like having a supervisor from industry?
It has some benefits, like getting access to data. I like that they have a problem that we are trying to solve, rather than doing the maths without a specific application in mind.
Abi: Rhino-sized hamster. It's like a giant teddy bear. Small animals are prone to death and injury.
Alice: The small one (Hamster-sized rhino).
To be concluded in part 3, featuring Allen, Shaunagh and Will.