AustMS2021 plenary profile – Jennifer Flegg

This is the sixth in a series of interviews with the plenary speakers for the upcoming 65th Annual Meeting of the AustMS.

  1. What is your earliest mathematical memory?

I was listening to my parents talk about something and I interrupted them to ask my dad what a 15% discount meant. I remember his explanation of “one-tenth and then half that again” being really easy to follow. My dad says I then worked out what their discount was going to be (on my brother’s braces); but I don’t remember that I just remember his explanation of how to calculate 15%.  

  1. What made you decide to become a mathematician, and when?

I decided to become a mathematician in my first year of university. I was studying maths and economics in a double degree at the time; business because my parents were worried that I’d have no career options after finishing a maths degree on its own. I didn’t enjoy the economics much but loved studying maths at university and from then there wasn’t another career on my radar. 

  1. Name a favourite paper by a contemporary mathematician, and why (or more than one, if you can’t decide).
  • Jonathan Sherratt and James Murray, “Models of epidermal wound healing”, Proc Biol Sci. 1990 Jul 23;241(1300):29-36. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1990.0061. PMID: 1978332.

This paper started my love of mathematical biology and was the first that I spent many months looking over as part of a research project in my undergraduate degree. I wish I had time to look over papers now like I did this one.  

  1. What historical mathematician would you like to be able to talk maths with? What would you ask them?

I don’t think I could go past having a chat with Alan Turing about his mathematical work of how biological shapes and patterns develop.  I’d probably have a few questions about cracking the Enigma code too 🙂   

  1. What result would you like to see in mathematics in the next 10 years?

Since what I work on is quite applied, this is difficult for me to answer in the way I’m assuming the question was intended. So, I’m going to take this question a bit differently and say that the ‘result’ I’d like to see is more structure/support around interdisciplinary work that involves mathematics and statistics.