Australian mathematicians rise to the challenge of COVID-19

(This is a guest post by Dr Joel Miller, introducing a miniseries of articles/essays by Australian mathematicians involved in the pandemic response)

Mathematics plays an integral role in our daily lives.  A smart phone that guides you to your destination relies on mathematical routines to calculate your position, other algorithms find the optimal route, and yet others ensure that the communications from your phone are secure.  The central role that mathematics plays throughout scientific disciplines comes largely because our mathematical models of the natural world, built on observation, give us remarkable predictive power and allow us to design systems that perform optimally.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we did not have time to do careful experiments comparing different policies before implementing them.  What we had was information about how efficiently the disease spreads, some hints that it could spread through asymptomatic or presymptomatic infected individuals, and estimates of the distribution of severity in different age groups.  That knowledge grew as different countries began to experience outbreaks.

Armed with this knowledge policy makers were forced to make decisions about their response.  They needed a way to turn this limited information about the mechanisms underlying disease spread into projections of what the future would hold.  Mathematical modelling was the tool that let us rigorously determine what consequences could follow from different policy decisions and different plausible disease properties.  The modelling effort relied on a wide range of techniques and modellers from different backgrounds and career levels, ranging from student to senior academic, as well as researchers working within health departments.

Lives have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, and by our response to it.  In this series some of the mathematical modellers who played a role in advising Australia’s (thus far) stunningly successful response give their perspective on the role that they played, showing how mathematicians at many levels played a key role in the decisions that led to COVID-19’s effective elimination in Australia.

PhD Top-up Scholarships: Ocean and Sea Ice Modelling

Closing date: 30 November 2021

Are you interested in understanding ocean physics, and do you have skills in computational/mathematical modelling?

The Consortium for Ocean-Sea Ice Modelling in Australia (COSIMA) is providing opportunities for PhD
students to work at the intersection of high-performance computing and ocean-climate dynamics.
Projects are available focusing on a wide range of topics, including:

  1. The role of sea ice in the climate system;
  2. Modelling biogeochemical cycles in the global ocean;
  3. Coupling between surface waves and large-scale currents;
  4. Antarctic ice shelves and their interaction with the Southern Ocean; and
  5. The sensitivity of ocean dynamics to vertical coordinate systems in ocean models.

These scholarships are valued at $7,500 per year for 3.5 years. Successful applicants will also need to be
successful in receiving a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship, or equivalent primary scholarship,
at a COSIMA partner university (ANU, UNSW, UTas, USyd, UniMelb or U Adelaide).

To Apply, you should submit a package to Ms Alina Bryleva including:

  • A half-page statement explaining your research interests and your planned work with COSIMA.
  • Your CV and academic transcripts.
  • Provide amount and source of any existing scholarships, both top-ups and a primary stipend.

These top-up scholarships are intended primarily for new students, however existing students working on one of the COSIMA models will also be considered. Preference will be given to competitive applicants who do not already receive a top-up scholarship from another source.

Enquiries: Please contact Professor Andrew Hogg

AMSI BioInfoSummer 2021 hybrid conference

29 November – 2 December

Adelaide | Melbourne | Perth | Sydney | Townsville

Join with other advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, researchers and professionals from the mathematics, statistics, data science, and medical sciences to develop your bioinformatics skills, nationals networks and employability! Learn about the latest research and developments in High Performance Computing for bioinformatics, Computational Methods in Human Genomic Health, Metagenomics and Long reads from an exciting line up of speakers including:

  • Ana Conesa, Institute for Integrative Systems Biology and Politechnical University of Valencia
  • Chen Ying, Genome Institute of Singapore
  • Greg Caporaso, Pathogen and Microbiome Institute, North Arizona University
  • Lorena Pantano, NextRNA Therapeutics, USA
  • John Quackenbush, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Melanie Bahlo, WEHI
  • Aaron Jex, WEHI
  • James Ferguson, Garvan Institute of Medical Research
  • Nadia Davidson, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Participate online or from one of our event hubs:

  • Adelaide | The University of Adelaide
  • Melbourne | Melbourne Bioinformatics, The University of Melbourne
  • Perth | Curtin University
  • Sydney | UNSW
  • Townsville | James Cook University

Full conference registration

Students: $90 AMSI members / $140 non-members

Standard $140 AMSI members / $210 non-members

Register now:

AMSI member students can attend for FREE for a Registration Scholarship courtesy of Australian BioCommons.  

Apply by 27 October:

Join the program! Share your research by entering the ePoster and Fast Forward Talks competition

Submit your abstract by 8 November:

Message from the President – time to renew your membership!

The Australian Mathematical Society’s President, Ole Warnaar, has a message to all members discussing recent national-scale activities of the society, to kick off our annual membership renewal season. You can read the open letter on this page, or else view a pdf version at this link.

Postdoctoral Research Associate@USydney – Statistical Modelling

Full time 2.5 years fixed term employment, located on the Camperdown Campus at the School of Mathematics and Statistics 

Closing date: 11.59pm, Sunday 31 October 2021

Opportunity to contribute to research focused on fast flexible feature selection for high dimensional challenging data and be part of world-class mathematicians and statisticians’ team

Base Salary Level A $95K – $105 p.a. + 17% superannuation

The University of Sydney is welcoming applications for a Postdoctoral Research Associate. The successful applicant will be working in the School of Mathematics and Statistics under the supervision of A/Prof John Ormerod and in collaboration with Prof Samuel Muller and Dr Garth Tarr.

More information and application link:

Postdoctoral Research Associate@USydney – Spectral Theory of Hamiltonian Dynamical Systems

Full time 2 years fixed term employment, located on the Camperdown Campus at the School of Mathematics and Statistics 

Closing date: 11:59pm, Monday, 26 October 2021

Opportunity to contribute to research focused on Spectral Theory of Hamiltonian Dynamical Systems and be part of world-class team of mathematicians 

Base Salary Level A $95K – $98 p.a. + 17% superannuation 

The University of Sydney is welcoming applications for a Postdoctoral Research Associate. The successful applicant will be working in the Applied Mathematics research group focusing on the ARC funded Discovery Project on Spectral Theory of Hamiltonian Dynamical Systems with Professor Holger Dullin and Dr. Robert Marangell. The research project will apply powerful geometric tools like the Maslov index and the Evans function to analyze the stability of solutions of non-linear Hamiltonian partial differential equations. Applications will include the study of inviscid fluids, the analysis of spectral monodromy and the Hamiltonian perturbation theory of Jacobi operators.

More information and application link:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Pure Mathematics@USydney – Tensor Categories

Full time 2 years fixed term employment, located on the Camperdown Campus at the School of Mathematics and Statistics 

Closing date: 11:59pm, Monday, 25 October 2021

Opportunity to contribute to research focused on Representation Theory, Category Theory and Algebraic Geometry and be part of world-class mathematicians’ team

Base Salary Level B $110K p.a. + 17% superannuation

The University of Sydney is welcoming applications for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. The successful applicant will be working in the intersection of Representation Theory, Category Theory and Algebraic Geometry, centered around the theory of tensor categories. On the one hand, the language of tensor categories allows one to employ techniques from representation theory in various settings, such as in theories of motives or perverse sheaves. On the other hand, techniques from representation theory are used to create structure theory for tensor categories via tannakian reconstruction.

More information and application link:–Tensor-Categories_0083727

Call for PhD Student Research Symposia – Expressions of Interest (EOI)

MATRIX and AMSI invite PhD students in the mathematical sciences around Australia to design and run their own research symposia. Students will be supported through:

  • assessment and guidance from the MATRIX Scientific Committee
  • promotion via the MATRIX website, email subscriber list and twitter
  • video conferencing advice and guidance (if required)
  • access to the online collaboration platform Sococo
  • access to MATRIX facilities in Creswick for two selected symposia to meet in-person
  • collaboration awards through competitive application to our MATRIX-AMSI PhD Student Research Collaboration scheme

Further details


Closing date for EOIs: Friday, 15 October 2021

4-year industry PhD scholarship+top-up on online misinformation detection@Uni Adelaide

School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Adelade

Closing date: COB 28 October 2021

The spread of misinformation online is believed to be driven in part by non­human actors: algorithms and bots, often coordinated offshore. Recent research has developed algorithms for identifying such bots through measures of coordination: accounts that post to social media at similar times, or with similar, recognisable patterns of behaviour. State-of-the-art approaches to bot detection nonetheless use relatively naive social media analytics and measures, and not using the full extent of information (e.g., network structure and full post content) available. This project will develop new measures of social information flow to understand the extent of online social influence, and build new tools to counter malicious coordinated behavior, in real time.

4-year PhD stipend ($28,597 p/a) plus $12,500 p/a (Supplementary Scholarship, indexed annually); includes internship with Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG). Applicants must be Australian citizens able to obtain security clearance. Applications for this UAiPhD project should be submitted to Associate Professor Lewis Mitchell by no later than COB 28 October 2021.

Senior Research Fellow or Research Fellow@Curtin University

School of Electrical Engineering, Computing, and Mathematical Sciences

$103,101 – $144,971 (ALB/C) plus 17% superannuation

Fixed-term full-time research position

Help shape the future of optimisation and applied mathematics at Curtin

Please apply through the Curtin University job board:

Application closing date 10:00pm AWST, Friday 15th October 2021

The School of Electrical Engineering, Computing, and Mathematical Sciences at Curtin University brings together the university’s expertise in data science, artificial intelligence, and digital technologies. The school includes several major collaborative ventures with industry and government, including the Optus-Curtin Centre of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence, the ARC Industrial Training Centre for Transforming Maintenance through Data Science, the Cisco Centre for Networks, and the Curtin Institute for Computation.
Optimisation is one of the school’s core research themes and the optimisation group in the school (part of the mathematics and statistics discipline) is a key pillar in Curtin University’s data science portfolio. The university is now seeking a senior research fellow or research fellow to collaborate with industry and government partners, conduct high-quality fundamental research in optimisation and operations research, and drive research funding opportunities. This is a research-focused position reporting to the group director.

Position description

Application link

If you have a query in relation to the application process please contact our careers team on

If you have any further queries regarding the role, please contact:
Professor Ryan Loxton, Discipline Lead – Mathematics and Statistics,

PhD top-up scholarship suitable for applied maths/stats@ANU

Computational methods for pupil-based disease diagnostics

Pupils are a diagnostic window onto the eye and brain circuits that govern their movements and hold the promise of contactless disease screening. However, the journey from pupil response to disease biomarker is a challenging road paved with complicated computational methods and ingenious visual stimulus design. A biomarker refers to a characteristic that is objectively measured and evaluated as an indicator of normal biological processes, pathogenic processes, or pharmacologic responses to a therapeutic intervention (US National Institutes of Health. Biomarkers Definitions Working Group, 1998). When combined with computational methods to allow systematic data analyses at scale to discover disease, immune, and treatment-response signatures, biomarkers can be used to develop novel diagnostics.We seek a PhD candidate with a background in computer science, computational neuroscience, or applied mathematics to join a multidisciplinary team developing novel algorithms that transform pupil-diameter time series to biomarkers for disease. Students with strong analytic and programming abilities combined with an interest in solving big health problems through engineering are encouraged to apply.The position would jointly supervised by Dr Elena Daskalaki and Dr Josh van Kleef and attract a generous top-up scholarship of $10K p.a. for 3 years provided by our commercial partner (Konan Medical USA). It is expected that suitable candidates would have qualified for an Australian Postgraduate Award or equivalent scholarship for international candidates.This research will be delivered in partnership with Our Health in Our Hands (OHIOH), a strategic initiative of the Australian National University, which aims to transform healthcare by developing new personalised health technologies and solutions in collaboration with patients, clinicians, and health care providers. Research undertaken by the group has already resulted in a number of patents, so there is strong potential for commercial applications arising from this project.


  • A/Prof. Hanna Suominen (ANU School of Computing)
  • Prof. Ted Maddess (JCSMR)
  • Dr. Elena Daskalaki (ANU School of Computing)
  • Dr. Josh van Kleef (JCSMR)

References and Reading Recommendations

  • Carle, C.F., James, A.C., Kolic, M., Loh, Y.W. and Maddess, T., 2011. High-resolution multifocal pupillographic objective perimetry in glaucoma. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 52(1), pp.604-610.
  • Carle, C.F., James, A.C., Rosli, Y. and Maddess, T., 2019. Localization of neuronal gain control in the pupillary response. Frontiers in neurology, 10, p.203.
  • James, A.C., Ruseckaite, R. and Maddess, T., 2005. Effect of temporal sparseness and dichoptic presentation on multifocal visual evoked potentials. Visual Neuroscience, 22(1), p.45.
  • Maddess, T.L., James, A.C. and Carle, C.F., Australian National University, 2017. Clustered volley method and apparatus. U.S. Patent 9,848,771.

ApplicationsTo express your interest in this PhD scholarship, please email the following documents to Josh van Kleef:

  • Current CV
  • Research proposal (max 2 pages)
  • Colour copies of all transcripts and completion certificates of prior study, in original language and  official English translations
  • Contact details for 3 referees.