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Victoria student gets ticket to Cambridge

17 Apr 2013 - 10:40 in Achievement

Victoria student gets ticket to Cambridge

image003.jpgA Victoria University student is the only New Zealander this year to be awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, to study at a postgraduate level at the University of Cambridge.

Wellingtonian Felix Barber, who is graduating in May with a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours (majoring in Mathematics and Physics), was one of 51 students from 24 countries to be awarded the Gates Scholarship, which will allow him to study for his Master’s in Applied Mathematics. Globally, more than 3,500 students applied for the scholarships, which assess intellectual ability, leadership capacity, academic fit with Cambridge and the applicant’s commitment to improving the lives of others.

Barber’s award comes after recent success with the William Georgetti Scholarship, which awarded him $180,000 over three years to support the PhD study he hopes to begin at Cambridge after his Master’s degree. The William Georgetti Scholarship is aimed at encouraging postgraduate study and research in a field that is important to the social, cultural or economic development of New Zealand.

“It’s exciting to be awarded these two scholarships and I am very grateful,” says Barber. “I am keen to take full advantage of any opportunities that come my way in the UK to do interesting and exciting work, so that I can one day give back to New Zealand.”

Barber, who originally planned a career as a journalist before realising he was “actually quite good at physics”, plans to focus on research into condensed matter physics or biophysics.

“I want to expand my knowledge base into these areas because I think they will allow me to do work that will have the greatest impact on the lives of others. My hope for the future is to produce research in a dynamic area of physics that can have a positive impact on serious world issues, such as the development of technologies to facilitate sustainable human existence.”

Outside of study, Barber sings in the Wellington Youth Choir, is a keen mountain biker and is learning Spanish. He was also responsible for co-founding the Victoria University Science Society to provide both a social and academic focus for students in the wider science community.

Victoria student awarded prestigious Woolf Fisher scholarship

07 Oct 2016 - 11:47 in Achievement

A Victoria University of Wellington student has been awarded a prestigious Woolf Fisher Trust scholarship worth around $300,000 for his doctoral study at the University of Cambridge.

ls medium.jpgHonours student Liam Jolliffe will travel to Cambridge in the United Kingdom to study for a PhD in Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics.

Sir Woolf Fisher (1912-1975), co-founder of Fisher and Paykel, set up his Trust in 1960 to recognise and reward excellence in education. The Scholarship selects young New Zealanders based on their outstanding academic ability, leadership potential as well as their integrity, vision and capacity for work.

Liam studied at Wairarapa College before coming to Victoria to complete a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics.

In his time at Victoria he has won numerous awards for academic excellence, including the Geoffrey A Rowan Memorial Bursary prize awarded to the best 300-level mathematics student, the Pablo Etchegoin Prize in Experimental Physics, and a Victoria Graduate Award in 2015.

Liam, a keen footballer and saxophonist, says he sees his future in academia.

“I will complete a Master of Advanced Studies at Cambridge, before transitioning to the PhD programme.

“I chose my degree at Victoria with no particular path in mind—I was just following my curiosity as I wanted to learn more about how the world works. Now, I see my future career in academia. Research will ensure I am challenged and engaged in interesting new material, and teaching will allow me to pass on my love for mathematics. I hope to return to Wellington and Victoria University later in my career.”

Liam has been studying algebraic matroids in his Honours research project, says Dr Dillon Mayhew from Victoria's School of Mathematics and Statistics.

"This area of mathematics is notoriously difficult to grasp, but Liam has quite quickly clarified the connections between two different ways of viewing these objects. No doubt his study at Cambridge will be equally successful."

Sir Noel Robinson, Chairman of the Woolf Fisher Trust, says, “We are delighted that we have had such a strong field shortlisted for this year’s scholarships. They each bring a range of strengths and research interests. And most importantly, they embody the characteristics envisaged by Sir Woolf when he established the scholarship. We will follow their progress with great pride and great interest.”

Victoria’s new degree to fill gap across multiple industries

29 Jan 2016 - 11:01 in Achievement

The first group of students from Victoria University of Wellington has successfully completed the country’s only university course in actuarial science.

The University’s Head of the School of Mathematics and Statistics Dr Peter Donelan says actuarial science is entering a new era beyond assessing life and financial risk as governments and businesses grapple with social investment and the effects of climate change.

The new undergraduate programme offered at Victoria is in response to the growing need for professionals who can analyse, measure and manage risk, he says.

“We live in a world where we are increasingly conscious of risk, whether from natural hazards such as earthquakes and storms, personal factors relating to health, disease and lifestyle, or uncertainty in financial markets, investments and asset management.

“There’s a growing demand for actuarial skills, not just across the traditional fields of insurance and finance, but in areas such as government, education, health and software development,” he says.

The actuarial science major, available in both the Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science degrees, encompasses a range of papers across economics, finance, mathematics, statistics and the actuarial science paper in the students’ final year.

Seven students completed the paper that ran for the first time throughout the second half of 2015.

To mark the occasion, a special ceremony was held last week where two promising actuarial science students, Ross Engelbrecht and Juanying (Jenny) Hu, were each awarded $2,500 prizes for outstanding academic merit.

The prizes were established in conjunction with ACC, Wellington’s largest employer of actuaries, in honour of ACC’s head actuary and Victoria alumnus Jonathan Nicholls who passed away in 2015.

Professor Bob Buckle, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Commerce, says the programme has been thoughtfully designed with extensive industry input.

“The New Zealand Society of Actuaries and individuals in the industry have lent their expertise to help shape the programme so it instils students with the right mix of skills, theory and practical experience.”

“One of the other great things about the programme is it provides opportunities for students to connect directly with leading members of the profession and from there, develop links with potential employers,” he says.

For more information contact Dr Peter Donelan on 04-463 5659 or

Victoria Researcher Scoop Science Awards

28 Jan 2014 - 11:18 in Achievement

Victoria researchers scoop science awards

Noam Greenberg2 copy.jpgVictoria University researchers Dr Noam Greenberg and Dr Simon Lamb have scooped New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS) awards for their contribution to science.

Dr Greenberg, an Associate Professor in Victoria’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research, is the recipient of the 2013 Research Medal, awarded for outstanding research published by a scientist under the age of 40.

Dr Greenberg works on the mathematics of computability, carrying out research which sheds light on the fundamental capabilities and limitations of the algorithms used by modern computers and software.

The international quality of his research has been recognised by the award of a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship from the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2011, and a Turing Research Fellowship from the United States-based John Templeton Foundation in 2012.

Dr Simon Lamb, an Associate Professor in the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences is the recipient of the 2013 Science Communicators Award for excellence in communicating science to the general public.

Dr Lamb has a sustained record of high impact communication of the science of climate change. He is the maker of Thin Ice, a documentary on climate change released in April last year that has since been viewed more than 50,000 times. He has also written several books and made television programmes and films which have reached large global audiences. His book, The Devil and the Mountain, which describes his own research into the formation of the Andes, was named on the New York Times Book Review’s list of 100 Notable Books for 2004.

The Awards will be presented at the 2014 Annual Conference of the NZAS, which takes place in Auckland on Saturday 5 April.

VUW student wins Sacks Prize

26 Mar 2012 - 15:25 in Achievement

The Sacks Prize for the best PhD thesis in logic worldwide in 2011 has been won by Dr Adam Day who completed his PhD in "Randomness and Computability" with the School in 2011 under the supervision of Professor Rod Downey. It is the first time this prize has been won outside of France, Toronto and the US. It is recognition of the logic group at VUW, and of Adam's thesis. Adam is currently in receipt of a Miller Fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley and also won the Royal Society's Hatherton Prize last year for the best paper in physical, earth or maths and information sciences by a New Zealand university PhD student. Our congratulations to Adam!

image of Adam Day

VUW Research Excellence award for Rod Downey

23 Mar 2009 - 15:39 in Achievement

Professor Downey will receive a 2009 VUW Award for Research Excellence on 25 March 2009. Congratulations to Rod!

Two new books from the School

13 Jul 2011 - 10:18 in Achievement

Two new books have been published recently, authored by members of the School. Professors Rob Goldblatt and Rod Downey, both members of the Mathematics group for the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research.

Rob Goldblatt's new book is "Quantifiers, Propositions and Identity: Admissible Semantics for Quantified Modal and Substructural Logics" published by Cambridge University Press and the Association for Symbolic Logic.

Earlier in the year, Rod Downey and Denis Hirschfeldt had their book "Algorithmic Randomness and Complexity" published by Springer.

QPIcover.small.jpgRod Book.jpg

Two PhD Completions

06 Aug 2010 - 15:02 in Achievement

Johnathan Crook and Giorgi Kvizhinadze have completed their PhDs. Jonathan's thesis is entitled "Ice Growth and Platelet Crystals in Antarctica", supervised by Mark McGuinness, and Giorgi's thesis is "Large number of rare events: Diversity analysis in multiple choice questionares and related topics", supervised by Estate Khmaladze.

Congratulations to both!

Turing’s Legacy among the best of 2014

29 Jun 2015 - 16:26 in Achievement

Professor Rod Downey’s edited collection of articles “Turing’s Legacy: Developments from Turing’s Ideas in Logic” has been chosen as one of the notable books on computing for 2014. The 'Annual Best of Computing’ list is compiled by Computing Reviews, part of the world’s leading computing society, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).


Downey’s book brings together essays by leading experts in logic, artificial intelligence, computability theory and quantum computing to trace the influence of Alan Turing, recognised as one of the geniuses of modern mathematics. In addition to leading the Allied forces' code-breaking effort at Bletchley Park in World War II, he proposed the theoretical foundations of modern computing and anticipated developments in areas from information theory to computer chess. The book includes Downey’s own essay concerning Turing’s impact on computability theory and the idea of algorithmic randomness.

The complete list of notable books and articles can be found here.

Thesis completion

18 May 2009 - 09:42 in Achievement

Congratulations to Galym Akishev who has completed the requirements for his PhD with his thesis "Monadic Bounded Algebras" under the supervision of Prof Rob Goldblatt.

Summer Gold Poster Competition Winner

10 Sep 2014 - 09:27 in Achievement

Jasmine Hall, one of our current Masters students, recently won the Summer Gold Poster Competition - this was open to anyone with a Summer Scholarship to create a poster explaining their research. Her poster was entitled "Extremal Values for Flats in Matroids" and basically just introduced the main matroid concepts in the research. The posters were split into groups according to Faculty and Jasmine won a $500 prize for best poster in her group.

Jasmine's winning poster is linked below as an attachment to view.

Success in 2013 Marsden Round

13 Nov 2013 - 12:13 in Achievement

Photo1 copy.jpg

Research in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research continues to go from strength to strength, with staff being awarded four Marsden grants in the 2013 round and another staff member being an associate investigator on a fifth project.

Associate Professor Noam Greenberg has been awarded Marsden funding for a project on which he is joint Principal Investigator with Professor Andre Nies at the University of Auckland. Dr Greenberg’s project, entitled ‘Randomness, Analysis and Reverse Mathematics’, will relate measures of complexity of mathematical structures and processes. Computationally, one asks what kind of information is required to mechanically implement a process. In terms of proof-theoretic strength, reverse mathematics investigates what basic facts are necessary for understanding a structure or process. The project will investigate the connections between these questions and how they apply to the areas of randomness and real analysis.

Also in the mathematical logic group, Dr Adam Day and Dr Alex Usvyatsov, have each been awarded $300,000 Fast Start grants given to outstanding emerging researchers. Their projects concern questions related to Greenberg's. In Dr Day's research, his point of departure is that two real numbers are computationally equivalent if given one, it is possible to compute the other, and vice versa. He proposes to investigate a longstanding conjecture of leading logician Donald (Tony) Martin, that has many profound consequences. The conjecture proposes that there is a simple classification of the functions that maintain computational equivalence.

Dr Usvyatsov observes that structural dichotomies are an exciting motif in mathematics. In various areas, seemingly unrelated results of a similar flavour are being discovered: objects are either "nice" and "well-understood", or "very complicated" and "unclassifiable". Model theory offers a general approach to such phenomena via investigating the connections between the complexity of theories (collections of axioms) and the mathematical objects that they describe. The goal of his project is to address a mysterious dichotomy-like behavior that (based on all known examples) seems to arise in the world of continuous mathematics. His hope is to uncover the underlying reasons for this poorly understood phenomenon.

The three Marsden grants for members of the mathematical logic group at Victoria confirm the status of Victoria as one of the leading centres for logic in the world.

There has also been considerable acclaim this year for Professor Geoff Whittle who, along with colleagues in Canada and the Netherlands, has solved a 40-year old mathematical problem known as Rota’s Conjecture. It took the team more than 15 years work to formulate the essential ingredients to prove their fundamental result, which is in the area of matroids, a type of finite geometry. Professor Whittle also received a Marsden grant this year to continue his research. He notes that the research group is confident that with the techniques and results they have established, and with the strategies in place, a well-defined program of mathematical research will complete this goal.

Dr John Haywood, in the statistics and operations research group, is working with Professor Phil Lester in the School of Biological Sciences on another Victoria Marsden project. They aim to develop a new approach in biological control and biological invasion theory, to help mediate the impact of exotic species on biodiversity. In particular, they will compare the ecological interaction networks of the invasive wasp Vespula vulgaris in its home range and in invaded regions.

Success for former Postdoc Dr Antonio Montalban

22 Mar 2011 - 17:26 in Achievement

Our congratulations to former postdoctoral fellow Dr Antonio Montalban who worked with Professor Downey (supported by the Marsden Fund and NZIMA). He recently got tenure at University of Chicago and was awarded a Packard Fellowship (the only one in maths this year) worth $US875K over 5 years (unrestricted).

Success for PhD student

17 Feb 2012 - 14:51 in Achievement

Kyle Tate was co-winner of the Kerr prize for the best student presentation at the Sixth Australasian Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation held last week in Queenstown. Kyle is supervised by Professor Matt Visser. Congratulations Kyle. See for further details.

Success for MSc Student

23 Apr 2013 - 14:31 in Achievement

Success for MSc Student

Simon Anastasiadis recently finished his MSc study in Statistics and Operations Research with distinction. At the end of 2012 he applied for

PhD study at several prestigious US universities. As a result, Simon was offered admission to the University of California, Berkeley, Industrial Engineering and Operations Research programme, along with the prestigious Berkeley Fellowship for Graduate Study, which is offered to only the top four percent of admitted doctoral students. He was also offered admission to the interdepartmental doctoral degree programme in Operations Research at MIT with full financial support for four academic years. In addition, he was offered admission to the Management Science and Engineering programme at Stanford University also with full financial support. Simon has accepted the offer from Stanford and will be undertaking his postgraduate studies starting September 2013. Congratulations to Simon!

Scholarship Success for Statistics Students

12 Jan 2009 - 12:55 in Achievement

Congratulations to Statistics Graduate Diploma student Ray Tobler who has been awarded a Victoria Graduate Award to support his studies in statistics and quantitative genetics.

And congratulations too to Vidette McGregor has been awarded a Ministry of Fisheries Postgraduate Scholarship in Quantitative Fisheries Science. She will undertake an MSc in Statistics and Operations Research and will pursue a thesis in Modelling of Fish Populations.

Sima Rouhollahi wins VUW PhD Scholarship

18 Aug 2010 - 17:51 in Achievement

Congratulations to Sima Rouhollahi who has been awarded a VUW PhD scholarship. She is planning to write a thesis on the topic of Mathematical models for imperfect repairs of systems in two-dimensions (time and usage). She will carry out this work under the supervision of Dr Stefanka Chukova and Dr Richard Arnold, and begin her studies in September.

Scholarship Success - Livestock Improvement Corporation

10 Dec 2008 - 16:13 in Achievement

Congratulations to Statistics Graduate Diploma student Ray Tobler and his supervisor Dr Nokuthaba Sibanda: Ray has been awarded the Livestock Improvement Corporation Patrick Shannon Undergraduate Scholarship for 2009. Ray will receive a grant to support his studies, and will also work for one month at the Livestock Improvement Corporation on a project in quantitative genetics.

Former Operations Research student Sarah Marshall appointed to Strathclyde

11 Oct 2010 - 11:15 in Achievement

Sarah Marshall, who completed her MSc in 2007 in Statistics and Operations Research and got a full financial support from the University of Edinburgh for her PhD study, has been offered a 2 year fixed term teaching associate position at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Congratulations to Sarah!

Rutherford Fellowship for Noam Greenberg

11 Nov 2010 - 09:41 in Achievement

Congratulations to Noam Greenberg who has won one of ten nationwide Rutherford Fellowships for future stars of New Zealand science. Noam's fellowship is worth $200,000 per annum for five years to enable him to pursue his research into non-computable objects.

Rod Downey awarded the Hector Medal

17 Nov 2011 - 09:11 in Achievement

Professor Rod Downey has been awarded the 2011 Hector Medal for outstanding work in mathematical and information sciences by a researcher in New Zealand. Professor Downey was awarded the medal for his influential and innovative work in mathematical logic.

Rod Downey and coauthors win 2010 Schoenfield Prize for Best Article

27 Sep 2010 - 10:01 in Achievement

Rod Downey along with collaborators Denis Hirschfeldt (our regular visitor from Chicago), Andre Nies (Auckland) and Sebaastiaan Terwjn (Nijmegen) have won the 2010 Schoenfield Prize (article section) for outstanding writing in the field of logic. The prize, of $1,000, is for their article 'Calibrating Randomness' (BSL, September 2006) and will be awarded at the 2011 ASL North American Meeting in Berkeley in March. This is an outstanding achievement

Research Excellence in Mathematics and Statistics

12 Apr 2013 - 14:59 in Achievement

Research Excellence in Mathematics and Statistics

The TEC's 2012 PBRF research evaluation has confirmed that the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research has an outstanding group of academic staff that places it firmly among the leaders in mathematical sciences research in New Zealand.

In the two subject areas of Pure and Applied Mathematics, and Statistics, the School's research groups ranked second in the country, alongside Otago in mathematics and behind Auckland in statistics. The PBRF results reveal the strength of mathematical sciences in New Zealand, with Pure and Applied Mathematics the most highly ranked subject, indicating that around 68% of research-active mathematicians in the country produced research that is recognised to be of high quality internationally or nationally in the evaluation period 2006-11.

In particular, SMSOR's mathematics group has the highest proportion, over 45%, of internationally recognised researchers in any subject at any university in New Zealand. The commitment to producing relevant and high quality research of our staff in statistics and operations research has seen the School climb from 4th ranked in 2006 to 2nd in the current evaluation.

The research undertaken covers a wide range of theoretical and applied problems, including the limits of computation and logical reasoning, cosmology and the structure of black holes, statistical analyses of spatial processes, biometrics of NZ flora and fauna, demographic and health statistics, modelling volcanic eruptions, warranty and reliability analysis, the mathematics of discrete structures, algorithms for optimisation, number theory and more.

The School retains its strong commitment to teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, undertaken by lecturers whose research continues to generate vital and fascinating new knowledge.

Research Excellence Awards

17 Dec 2009 - 18:03 in Achievement

Adam Day has been awarded a Postgraduate Research Excellence Award. Adam is undertaking a PhD and is supervised by Professor Rod Downey and already has several publications to his credit.

Professor Geoff Whittle and Dr. Noam Greenberg have been awarded Victoria University Research Excellence Awards. Congratulations to them both.

Professor Noam Greenberg Becomes Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand

17 Nov 2017 - 15:24 in Achievement

Five Victoria University of Wellington researchers, including Professor Noam Greenberg from the School of Mathematics and Statistics, have been made fellows of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, announced today.

Fellows have to be nominated and the nominations are then assessed against a number of criteria by a discipline-based evaluation panel. Victoria academics make up five of the 16 new fellows.


Provost Professor Wendy Larner, who is the incoming president of the Royal Society, says the University is proud to see its leading academics recognised for their contributions in this way.

“It is fantastic to see the Victoria fellows coming from across a range of disciplines. It is a real testament to our research strength across the board.”

The new fellows and their research are as follows.

Professor Noam Greenberg’s research interests include computability theory, algorithmic randomness, reverse mathematics, higher recursion theory, computable model theory, and set theory. Read more here:

Professor Charlotte Macdonald’s research focuses on 19th colonies and empires, New Zealand history, gender and women's history, the cultural history of bodies and modernity, sport and spectating. Read more at:

Professor Mengjie Zhang’s research focuses on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data/data mining, particularly evolutionary computation and learning, genetic programming, large scale feature selection and big dimensionality reduction, intelligent computer vision and image processing, planning/scheduling and combinatorial optimisation, and deep learning and transfer learning. Read more about his research here:

Professor Tony Ward’s current research projects include explanation and inquiry in research and practice; normative issues in forensic and clinical practice including restorative justice and therapeutic jurisprudence; and change processes in the psychopathology and forensic/correctional domains. Read more here:

Professor Miriam Meyerhoff’s current research focuses on language variation and change, language contact, Vanuatu languages, and language and gender. Read more here:

Professor Estate Khmaladze awarded I Javakhishvili Medal

31 Jan 2012 - 09:20 in Achievement

Congratulations to Professor Estate Khmaladze who recently gave an invited public lecture for the Tbilisi State University in Georgia. There he was presented with the I. Javakhishvili medal. Javakhishvili is a classical figure in Georgian culture, the author of the monumental "History of Georgia" (usually in 12 volumes). He was one of the founders of Tbilisi State University. The I. Javakhishvili Medal is the highest honour the University can award.

Prof Visser wins James Cook Fellowship

30 Sep 2011 - 09:28 in Achievement

Congratulations to Professor Matt Visser who has been awarded a prestigious 2 year James Cook Fellowship. He is one of 2 winners nationwide in mathematical sciences.

Prof. David Vere-Jones receives the Campbell Award

09 Sep 2009 - 13:38 in Achievement

Congratulations to Prof. David Vere-Jones, who was awarded the Campbell Award by the New Zealand Statistical Association on 2 September 2009.

The purpose of the award is to promote statistics within NZ and to recognise an individual's contribution to the promotion and development of statistics. Throughout his career Prof. Vere-Jones has generously contributed to statistics education at all levels - inside and outside the University - and has an outstanding research and publication record. We are delighted to celebrate with Prof. Vere-Jones the award of this honour.

Prize Winners 2013

07 Jan 2014 - 16:08 in Achievement

Prize Winners 2013

Congratulations to all the student prize winners for 2013

Prize name Recipient
David Payne Memorial Prize Sarah Kennedy
Geoffery A Rowan Memorial Bursary Tim Caldwell
Health and Disability Intelligence Prize in Statistics Anne Anker
Jenny Whitmarsh Award for Mathematics Lucy Dement and Kimberley Savill
John P Good Memorial Prize Aleksa Vujicic
Macmorran Prize for Mathematics Lennox Kelly
J T Campbell Prize in Statistics Michelle Porter
Rotary Club of Wellington Science Prize - Statistics Longfei Yan
Rotary Club of Wellington Science Prize - Mathematics Aleksa Vujicic
Shayle Searle Prize in Statistics Kate Atkins, Lucy Barnes and Longfei Yan
Vere-Jones Prize for Statistics Jonathan Simons
W H Vaughan Prize for Mathematics Finnian Gray

Postdoctoral fellow awarded Stieltjes Prize for 2015

27 Jan 2017 - 15:58 in Achievement

A postdoctoral fellow from Victoria’s School of Mathematics and Statistics has been awarded the Stieltjes Prize for 2015, which recognises the best PhD in Mathematics in the Netherlands.

Rutger Kuyper was awarded the prize for his thesis entitled Computability, Probability and Logic, which examines the interplay between these three subfields of mathematics. His thesis consists of three parts: computability and logic, algorithmic randomness and how logical reasoning can be combined with intuitive probabilistic reasoning.

The Stieltjes Prize has been awarded annually since 1996. Thomas Stieltjes was a nineteenth century Dutch mathematician whose name is associated with a number of mathematical discoveries.

Dr Kuyper completed his PhD at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, under the supervision of Dr Sebastiaan Terwijn. Dr Kuyper’s thesis committee included Victoria’s Professor Rod Downey.

Dr Kuyper’s research at Victoria focuses on computability theory, with an emphasis on algorithmic randomness. He says Victoria is a great place to carry out this research, as there is a strong group of researchers working in algorithmic randomness.

Originally from Haarlem, the Netherlands, Dr Kuyper previously spent a year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He plans to spend a year in Wellington before returning to Wisconsin.

Postdoc Fellowship Success

27 Apr 2009 - 17:12 in Achievement

Congratulations to....

  • Selwyn Keng Meng Ng has accepted a van Vleck postdoctoral fellowship to the University of Madison, Wisconsin beginning September, 2009.

PhD completion

14 Jul 2009 - 13:47 in Achievement

Congratulations to Selwyn Keng Meng Ng who has had his PhD "Computability, traceability and beyond" finalised and deposited in the Library

PhD Completions - Celine Cattoen and Petarpa Boonserm

31 Jul 2009 - 13:54 in Achievement

Celine Cattoen has submitted her PhD thesis entitled: "Applied mathematics of space-time and space+time: Problems in general relativity and cosmology". Her supervisor was Professor Matt Visser. She will soon be taking up a postdoctoral position at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

Petarpa Boonserm who recently completed her PhD with Professor Matt Visser with a thesis entitled "Rigorous bounds on Transmission, Reflection, and Bogoliubov coefficients". She will be taking up a junior position in the Mathematics Department at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand.

Congratulations to Celine and Petarpa on their successes!

People's Choice Award for Tim McKenzie

29 Nov 2010 - 16:01 in Achievement

At the recent New Zealand Association of Mathematics and Statistics Graduates conference PhD student, Tim McKenzie (supervisor Professor Rob Goldblatt) won the prize for the peoples choice (this was the favourite talk of the conference voted for by everyone that attended).

Noam Greenberg wins a John Templeton Turing Research Fellowship

29 Jun 2012 - 20:15 in Achievement

Congratulatons to Noam Greenberg who has won a John Templeton Turing Research Fellowship. This Fellowship is one of 5 awarded to comemorate the Alan Turing Centenary Year. The fellowship provides Dr Greenberg with 75,000 UK Pounds to support his research over the next years. Noam was awarded the fellowship in a webcast ceremony at the Turing Centenary Conference at Manchester on Turing's birthday, 23rd June. For more details see

Noam won this award in theme 4: "How should we compute? New Models of Logic and Computation".

Noam Greenberg wins Royal Society honour

08 Oct 2009 - 17:35 in Achievement

Congratulations to Dr Noam Greenberg who has been awarded the Royal Society Hamilton Prize for 2009. This prize is awarded annually by the Royal Society for the encouragement of beginners in scientific or technological research in New Zealand or in the islands of the South Pacific Ocean.

New Degree Programme Student Wins Scholarship

14 Jun 2016 - 15:32 in Achievement

A Victoria University student who will be among the first people in New Zealand to graduate in actuarial science has been awarded the 2016 Cigna Actuarial Scholarship.

Please refer to this link for full story:

NZ Statistics Assn Student Talk Prize

03 Dec 2012 - 14:02 in Achievement

Congratulations to Statistics PhD student Darcy Webber, who was co-recipient of the student prize for best student presentation at the New Zealand Statistical Association meeting 29-30 November 2012. Darcy shares the award with Brigid Betz-Stablein from Massey University.

NZSA Prize Winners

28 Jan 2014 - 09:24 in Achievement

NZSA Prize Winners

DSC05681 shirley  winning students.JPG

Victoria University Statistics student's Daniel Fernandez and Roy Costilla win Harmonic sponsored NZSA Student Prize.

For the full article please see the Harmonic Website.

NIWA Wellington Science and Technology Fair

12 Sep 2014 - 15:52 in Achievement

The School warmly congratulates the winners of this year's prize for the most imaginative and effective use of mathematics or statistics in a project at the Fair, held at Victoria University in late August. The winners of the special prize, sponsored by MSOR, were Andrew Tang and Ollie Whyte, year 10 students at Scots College. Their project was entitled “The Electrolyte Challenge”. This year’s judge, Dimitrios Mitsotakis described the presentation as excellent.

In explaining why the prize was awarded for this project, Dimitrios noted, "The extensive use of statistics was very impressive. Andrew and Ollie kept a detailed log of their experiments and their results. Their notes (lab report) were detailed like a book. The experimental data were analyzed with the use of statistics. The candidates conducted statistical research comparing different scenarios and distributions while they presented their results using very well prepared graphs and tables. I think the analytical way of thinking and the professionalism of the students were outstanding."

Mathematician receives Humboldt Prize

07 Dec 2016 - 12:25 in Achievement

Victoria University Professor of Mathematics Rod Downey has received a distinguished Humboldt Research Award for his academic contributions.

Rod.jpgGranted annually by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany, the award recognises a researcher's achievements to date and is given to academics whose fundamental discoveries, new theories or insights have had a significant impact and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future. It is valued at EUR 60,000 (NZD $90,000).

Professor Downey from Victoria’s School of Mathematics and Statistics is a leading expert in theory of computation, particularly the relationship between algebraic and descriptive complexity versus algorithmic complexity.

Professor Downey is the third New Zealander to receive the award, but the first mathematician from New Zealand and the first from Victoria University.

Just last month Professor Downey was awarded his seventh Marsden Fund grant as Principal Investigator. This puts him among an elite group of researchers to consistently win funding over many years.

“Professor Downey is a mathematical pioneer whose work has shaped research in a fundamentally important field—determining the limits of what is computable, the effectiveness of algorithms and clarifying our notion of what is random as opposed to deterministic,” says Dr Peter Donelan, Head of Victoria’s School of Mathematics and Statistics.

“Having someone of Professor Downey’s calibre at the University has made it a magnet for some of the finest minds around the world, and it is a fitting acknowledgement that he joins some of the great names of mathematics of the last 50 years in being a Humboldt Award recipient.”

Professor Downey plans to visit Germany to work with colleagues from Heidelberg University who nominated him for the award.

Next year several events are being held to celebrate Professor Downey’s 60th birthday, including a symposium in Wellington and a month-long programme Singapore.

Marsden Success

25 Oct 2012 - 10:11 in Achievement

Congratulations to Drs Richard Arnold and I-Ming Liu along with Professors Shirley Pledger and Rod Downey who have been awarded Marsden grants. The team of Arnold, Liu and Pledger have been awarded the 3-year grant for their project in Applied Statistics, "Cluster Analysis for Ordinal Categorical Data", while Professor Downey is awarded the grant for his project on "Algorithmic Randomness, Computation and Complexity".

MSOR students win Graduate Student Prizes

05 Dec 2011 - 10:32 in Achievement

At the recent NZ Postgraduate Student Conference in Mathematics and Statistics the prize for best pure maths talk went to Ben Clark. Melissa Welsh won the prize for the best applied mathematics talk. Our congratulations to them on their achievement.

Both Ben and Melissa are PhD students in the School. This conference was organised by MSOR this year, led by PhD student Michael Snook.

MSOR Summer Scholar wins Poster Prize

07 Apr 2011 - 11:45 in Achievement

Congratulations to Kane O'Donnell, one of the School's Summer research scholars who completed a project under the supervision of Prof Matt Visser over the summer.Kane won the prize for the poster with most impact for his poster : "Velocity addition in special relativity"resulting from this work.

He is also the coauthor (with Prof Visser) of the article "Elementary analysis of the special relativistic combination of velocities, Wigner rotation, and Thomas precession".

MSOR Researcher awarded Rutherford Discovery Fellowship

02 Oct 2013 - 13:34 in Achievement

Victoria University researchers have scooped three of this year’s Rutherford Discovery Fellowships. One of them being our very own Dr Dillon Mayhew.

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Dr Dillon Mayhew is a Senior Lecturer in Victoria University's School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research.

After completing undergraduate studies at Victoria, he received a prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship to complete a PhD in mathematics at the University of Oxford.

The Rutherford Discovery Fellowship will enable Dr Mayhew to continue his mathematics research into matroid and model theory, which he describes as 'computer-age geometry' and has applications in computer science.

He is also a talented musician and, in his spare time, plays French horn in the Wellington Orchestra. Dr Mayhew is currently visiting the United States, where he is working with colleagues in the mathematics department at Princeton University.

The Rutherford Discovery Fellowships support New Zealand’s most talented early- to mid-career researchers by providing financial support of $800,000 over a five-year period to investigate a particular research topic, and help them further their career in New Zealand.

The three Victoria University researchers are Dr Dillon Mayhew, who will continue his mathematics research in the field of matroids and model theory, Dr Robert McKay for the Antarctic ice Sheet-Southern Ocean interactions during greenhouse worlds of the past 23 million years – and consequences for New Zealand climate, and Dr Elizabeth Stanley who will explore the changing status of human rights in New Zealand.

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says the Fellowship awards are a significant achievement for the researchers involved. "These awards, set up by the Government in 2010, will allow some of our best and brightest researchers achieve their potential to make an enormous contribution to New Zealand.

"I am delighted and proud that three of the ten Fellowships have been awarded to Victoria University researchers this year. It is immensely satisfying to see those who have dedicated their career to discovery and world-leading research being supported and recognised in this way."

The fellowships are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

MSOR Phd Student accepts postdoctoral fellowship

21 Apr 2009 - 13:07 in Achievement

PhD student Keng Meng (Selwyn), Ng has accepted a van Vleck postdoctoral fellowship to the University of Wisconsin-Madison beginning September, 2009. Selwyn has recently completed his PhD Thesis, "Computability, Traceability and Beyond". He studied under Professor Rod Downey. Congratulations Selwyn!

MSOR PhD graduate appointed lecturer at USP

30 May 2013 - 11:20 in Achievement

Our congratulations to MSOR PhD graduate Sione Paea, who has been appointed to a lectureship in Mathematics at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. Sione did his PhD developing a multiscale simulation method for the growth of nanocrystals in solution. He was supervised by Shaun Hendy (Physics and McDiarmid Inst, and winner of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize) and Mark McGuinness. Sione also has a Masters in Mathematics, awarded with Merit, modelling the pyrolysis of coal, under the supervision of Mark McGuinness


MSOR Marsden Success

05 Oct 2010 - 14:05 in Achievement

Staff in the School have once again been very successful in the latest Marsden round. Our congratulations to Prof Geoff Whittle, Dr Hung Pham (who won a Fast Start grant) and to Prof Rod Downey who has been awarded a one year extension to an existing grant.

Learning and Teaching Grant for Peter Donelan

12 Mar 2010 - 16:02 in Achievement

Congratulations to Dr Peter Donelan who is leading a team which has won one of the inaugural Learning and Teaching Grants for their project: 'Maple TA: A testing and learning tool for mathematics'.

The proposal is for the School to pilot use of an online learning, testing and assessment tool, Maple TA ( This is produced by Maplesoft who are responsible for the computer algebra system Maple that is widely used around the world. It enables lecturers and course coordinators to develop question banks that provide practice and assessment (including self-assessment) opportunities for students.

Laurent Bienvenu has won the Gilles Kahn Specif prize

16 Dec 2008 - 13:19 in Achievement

Congratulations to Laurent Bienvenu, one of Rod Downey's current postdocs, who has won the Gilles Kahn Specif prize for the best thesis in computer science in France. It is several thousand Euros.

Jones Medal awarded to Prof Rob Goldblatt

22 Nov 2012 - 15:03 in Achievement

Congratulations to Prof Rob Goldblatt who has won the 2012 Jones Medal, the mathematical sciences award for lifetime achievement, awarded every two years. Prof Rob Goldblatt FRSNZ won the award for his world-leading research in modal logic and category theory.

Success and visitors to the General Relativity Group

12 Jan 2009 - 16:47 in Achievement

  1. Matt Visser has won a FQXi mini grant [US$10,000] to bring overseas researchers to New Zealand to give technical seminars. For more details see here.

  2. Petarpa Boonserm and Matt Visser have published article that has now been selected for inclusion in "IOP Select". See and more specifically here for more details.

    This article, "Transmission probabilities and the Miller–Good transformation" was published in the Journal of Physics: Mathematical and Theoretical 42 No 4 (30 January 2009) 045301.

  3. Three visitors coming to the general relativity group:
    • Dr Thomas Sotiriou, postdoc at the University of Maryland. (28 Jan to 19 Feb)
    • Dr Silke Weinfurtner, postdoc at the University of British Columbia. (28 Jan to 19 Feb)
    • Gil Jannes, graduate student at the Astrophysics Institute of Andalusia, Granada, Spain (18 Feb to 26 Mar)
    These visitors will all be presenting technical seminars (details TBA) on aspects of general relativity.

Irene Pestov Scholarship

19 Sep 2013 - 09:55 in Achievement

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 9.51.19 AM.pngThe Irene Pestov Memorial Scholarship has been set up by Vladimir, Xenia and Sviatoslav (Slava) Pestov in memory of their late wife and mother Irene Pestov, who completed her PhD in Mathematics at Victoria between 1993 and 1996.

The scholarship aims to assist female students in the area of mathematical sciences or geosciences to complete their MSc or PhD thesis, by helping to extend enrolment in the final months of writing up their thesis.

Dr. Irene Pestov (1956–2013) completed her PhD studies under the joint supervision of Dr Mark McGuiness (Victoria University) and Dr Graham Weir (Industrial Research Limited), supported by the Victoria University Postgraduate Scholarship.

Born in Eastern Siberia, Irene went on to obtain a degree in Applied Mathematics from Tomsk State University. After moving to New Zealand with her family and successfully defending her thesis in October 1996, Irene held a postdoctoral position in Sendai, Japan. From 1999 she worked as a research scientist at the Australian Geological Survey in Canberra (later her division was transferred to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australia).

Subsequent career moves saw Irene working as a research scientist in civil engineering at the University of Ottawa, Canada, then as an independent engineering consultant, and, from 2007, a senior research scientist at the Centre for Operational Research and Analysis (CORA) of the Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) in Ottawa. Irene’s research output was extensive and varied, reflecting her multidimensional career path.

In her Victoria thesis, Irene showed how a vapour-liquid counterflow in geothermal systems can evolve to form two layered structures, one being water-dominated and the other steam-dominated.

While working in Australia, Irene proved conclusively that thermal convestion is the most important transport mechanism in most of the Great Artesian Basin. This is considered by some researchers to be her most significant discovery. At CORA-DRDC, Canada, Irene developed a net- enabled approach to Arctic search and rescue, with a potential to save lives.

Irene’s hope and one of her last wishes was that this scholarship would aid female scientists to persevere in the face of difficulty in order to complete their graduate studies.

Honour for Prof Matt Visser

18 Nov 2009 - 18:32 in Achievement

Professor Matt Visser has been elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society . Membership is limited to no more than one half of one percent of the membership and is recognition by his peers of his outstanding contributions to physics.

The citation, which will appear on his Fellowship Certificate, will read as follows:
"For contributions to gravity theory, especially the effects of energy condition violations and the development of analog models of black hole and cosmological spacetimes."

High Profile for Prof Matt Visser's work on Black Holes

10 Sep 2009 - 16:22 in Achievement

Following Professor Matt Visser 's public talk on Black Holes at the Wellington Public Library on 9/9/2009 the most recent issue of Scientific American (October 2009) contains an article (pp 39 - 45) on black holes by him and his collaborators. This is an excellent introduction to Professor Visser's work.

Great Marsden Success

08 Oct 2009 - 17:33 in Achievement

Congratulations to Professor Estate Khmaladze, Professsor Matt Visser and Dr. Noam Greenberg who have been awarded Marsden grants for 2009, and to Dr Byoung Kim and Dr Dillon Mayhew who have been awarded Marsden Fast Start grants for young researchers. These prestigious awards will allow the recipients to carry out foundational research in the mathematical sciences.

Fulbright Travel Award

11 May 2012 - 11:31 in Achievement

Congratulations to Dr Peter Nelson who will be a post-doctoral fellow in the School (under the supervision of Professor Geoff Whittle) who has been awarded a Fulbright Travel Award for a visit to the USA in September. The grant is to give various seminars in the USA, contributing to communication and exchange of knowledge between the US and NZ. Dr Nelson will be giving departmental seminars at Princeton, Rutgers and Columbia Universities, and the New York Combinatorics Seminar hosted by SUNY Brooklyn in September. The talks will be on his research in extremal matroid theory. He will also be working with Stefan van Zwam at Princeton.

Estate Khmaladze now IMS Fellow

27 Apr 2011 - 16:13 in Achievement

Congratulations to Professor Estate Khmaladze on being elected to a Fellowship in the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. This fellowship honours Prof Khmaladze's outstanding research and professional contributions in the field of statistics and probability.

Estate Khmaladze elected Fellow of RSNZ

06 Oct 2010 - 14:16 in Achievement

Congratulations to Professor Estate Khmaladze who has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand - he is regarded as a leading international expert in statistical models, making significant contributions in not only theoretical work, but also for statistical problems in finance, insurance and other related fields.

Dr Hung le Pham awarded London Mathematical Society grant

14 Oct 2009 - 13:06 in Achievement

Congratulation to Dr Hung le Pham who has been awarded a London Mathematical Society grant for his project "Multi- norms and multi-Banach algebras". The project involves a collaboration between Dr Garth Dales from the University of Leeds and Dr. Pham. Dr. Pham will be visiting the Universities of Leeds, Glasgow, Lancaster and Nottingham over the summer. This visit was arranged by Dr Matthew Daws of the University of Leeds who is one of the academics Dr. Pham will be working with during his visit.

Dillon Mayhew wins Early Career Research Excellence Award

05 Jan 2012 - 20:16 in Achievement

Our congratulations to Dr Dillon Mayhew from the Mathematics group who has been awarded a Victoria University of Wellington Early Career Research Excellence award.

Course wins International Award

07 Sep 2011 - 13:14 in Achievement

ORST 482 Official Statistics has won (jointly with an Ethiopian initiative) the ISI International Statistical Literacy Project 2011 "Best Cooperative Project Award". The International Statistical Literacy Project's Best Cooperative Project Award in Statistical Literacy is given once every two years in recognition of outstanding, innovative, and influential statistical literacy projects that affect a broad segment of the general public and are fruit of the cooperation of different types of institutions (national statistical offices, schools, statistical societies, media, libraries etc.).

The 2011 joint winners were:
  • From Ethiopia, The Belgian (Flemish), Ethiopian and Mozambique universities with the project, "North-South-South (NSS) International Collaborative Project in Biostatistics".
  • From New Zealand, Statistics New Zealand and NAOS (the Network of Academics in Official Statistics) with the project, "A post-graduate program in official statistics" (local participants Richard Arnold and Sharleen Forbes).

Congratulations to Valentina Baccetti

20 Nov 2012 - 11:45 in Achievement

Congratulations to PhD student Valentina Baccetti (supervisor Professor Matt Visser) who was the shared winner of the prize for best talk in the Applied Maths category at the New Zealand Mathematics and Statistics Postgraduate conference of this year in Auckland. Her presentation was on "Inertial frames without the relativity principle: breaking Lorentz symmetry."

Congratulations to Shaochuan Lu

13 Jul 2009 - 17:00 in Achievement

Congratulations to Shaochuan Lu who has completed the requirements for his PhD with his thesis "Extensions of Markov Modulated Poisson Processes and Their Applications to Deep Earthquakes" under the supervision of Professor David Vere-Jones and Dr. David Harte.

Congratulations to Robin Averill

25 Sep 2009 - 15:05 in Achievement

Congratulations to Robin Averill who has completed her PhD "Teacher-student relationships in diverse New Zealand Year 10 mathematics classrooms: Teacher care." The thesis was under the supervision of Associate-Professor Megan Clark.

Congratulations to Professor Rod Downey

26 Sep 2012 - 10:11 in Achievement

Congratulations to Professor Rod Downey FRSNZ from Victoria‘s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research, who has been selected to join the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, in honour of his distinguished contribution to mathematics. He will be officially inducted at the world‘s largest mathematics meeting, the 2013 Joint Mathematics Meetings, in San Diego in January.

Congratulations to PhD student

11 Jul 2012 - 10:26 in Achievement

Statistics PhD student Darcy Webber has won the Ministry for Primary Industries Prize for Student Oral Presentation making the best use of Quantitative Methodology at the joint Australian Marine Sciences Association/New Zealand Marine Science Society Conference held recently in Hobart (1-5 July 2012). Darcy is supervised by Dr Richard Arnold. Congratulations to Darcy.

Thesis completion

19 Jun 2009 - 17:38 in Achievement

Congratulations to Petarpa Boonserm who has completed the requirements for her PhD with her thesis "Rigorous Bounds on Transmission, Reflection and Bogoliubov Coefficients" under the supervision of Prof Matt Visser.

Congratulations to Paul Cordue

21 Nov 2012 - 10:48 in Achievement

More success at the New Zealand Mathematics and Statistics Postgraduate conference where MSOR student Paul Cordue won the prize for the peoples choice with his talk about "Adventures in Block Land". Congratulations to Paul.

Congratulations to Michael Snook

30 Jul 2013 - 09:27 in Achievement

Congratulations to Michael Snook, who has successfully completed his PhD thesis, "Matroids, complexity, and computation", under the supervision of Dillon Mayhew. Michael's thesis is concerned with the study of geometrical objects called matroids, and the ability of computers to answer questions about them.

Congratulations to Lisa Woods

09 Sep 2009 - 13:29 in Achievement

At the New Zealand Statistical Association 2009 meeting, held at Victoria University last week, Honours graduate Lisa Woods won the prize for best poster, for her project entitled "A probabilistic method of tectonic stress estimation." In the poster Lisa described how she made a map of the tectonic stresses in the earth's crust under New Zealand, using earthquake data.

Congratulations to Kemmawadee Preedalikit

12 Nov 2012 - 13:57 in Achievement

Congratulations to Kemmawadee Preedalikit (Far) who has successfully completed her PhD on "Joint Modeling of Longitudinal Ordinal Data on Quality of Life and Survival." The thesis was completed under the supervision of Dr I-Ming Liu and Dr Nokuthaba Sibanda.

Congratulations to Jozef Skakala

07 Jun 2011 - 13:57 in Achievement

Congratulations to Jozef Skakala who has successfully completed his PhD on "Aspects of general relativity: Pseudo-Finsler extensions, Quasi-normal frequencies, and multiplication of tensorial distributions". The thesis was completed under the supervision of Professor Matt Visser.

Congratulations to Haizhen Wu

15 Nov 2010 - 09:36 in Achievement

Congratrulations to Haizhen (Eric) Wu who successfully defended his PhD thesis on "Divisible statistics and their partial sum processess: asymptotic properties and applications". Eric's supervisor was Professor Estate Khmaladze.

Congratulations to Gabriel Abreu

18 Aug 2011 - 19:56 in Achievement

Congratulations to Gabriel Abreu who has successfully completed his PhD on "Kodama time, entropy bounds, the Raychaudhuri equation, and the quantum interest conjecture". The thesis was completed under the supervision of Professor Matt Visser.

Congratulations to Dayle Anderson

19 Apr 2012 - 14:41 in Achievement

Congratulations to Dayle Anderson who has successfully completed her PhD on "Teacher Knowledges, Classroom Realities: Implementing Sociocultural Science in New Zealand Year 7 and 8 Classrooms". The thesis was completed under the supervision of Associate Professor Megan Clark.

Congratulations to Brenda Sherley

06 Jul 2011 - 10:00 in Achievement

Congratulations to Brenda Sherley who has successfully completed her PhD on "'Kindergarten and New Entrant Teachers' Beliefs and Practices in Mathematics Teaching and Learning". The thesis was completed under the supervision of Associate-Professor Megan Clark along with Dr Joanna Higgins (Faculty of Education). Brenda is currently working for UNESCO in Samoa.

Congratulations to BD Kim

17 Jul 2012 - 08:50 in Achievement

It looks like BD Kim will not be seeing much summer weather over the next few years. He has been invited as a research visitor to both the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn and IHES (The Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques) near Paris. These are two of the world's most prestigious institutions for research in mathematics. He will be spending the summer of 2012/3 at MPIM and the summer of 2013/4 at IHES. Judging by last summer in Wellington, he won't be missing much.

Congratulations to Amanda Cameron

24 Sep 2013 - 19:12 in Achievement

Amanda Cameron, who recently completed her masters under Dillon Mayhew's supervision, has been awarded a "Queen Mary Principal's research studentship" to study for her PhD at Queen Mary University in London. She will be working with the combinatorics group there.

Congratulations to Adam Day on his successful PhD completion

19 May 2011 - 11:44 in Achievement

Congratulations to Adam Day who has successfully completed his PhD on "Randomness and Computability". The thesis was completed under the supervision of Professor Rod Downey. Adam leaves to take up a research fellowship at the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science at the Berkeley campus of the University of California shortly.

Cigna awards inaugural Actuarial Scholarship

29 May 2015 - 15:59 in Achievement

Navin Patel has been awarded $5,000 towards his studies as recipient of the 2015 Cigna Actuarial Scholarship.

Granted for the first time this year, the scholarship was set up by Cigna Life Insurance NZ Ltd to encourage potential students at Victoria University to consider the actuarial profession as a career path.

Cigna also offers the successful candidate a potential internship at their Wellington office over the summer break.

Third year Actuarial Science student Navin was selected due to his academic excellence and desire to learn, says Cigna’s Head Actuary Nathan Thomas.

“Navin understood the level of effort and commitment involved in being an actuary. Both his general attitude and his approach to balancing studies with playing competitive cricket for the Manawatu Mens Representative District Team impressed the panel. Navin also has good written and verbal communication skills which is a very valuable and often underestimated skill within the actuarial profession.”

Dr Peter Donelan, Head of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research at Victoria University, says the scholarship is welcome boost for both students and the School.

“I am very grateful to Cigna for establishing this scholarship in support of our new Actuarial Science programme.

“Congratulations to Navin—he is an ideal student to be the first recipient of this scholarship. He has a passion for the actuarial profession evident from when he first applied to study at Victoria and an outstanding academic record. I look forward to seeing him flourish in his chosen vocation in the future.”

Navin, who also studies Mathematics as part of his double degree, says he is honoured to be selected as recipient for the award.

“Actuarial Science has always been a passion of mine and this scholarship is a stepping stone into applying my passion into the real world. It is an honour in knowing that my hard work has been recognised, and fills me with the motivation and excitement to keep pursuing my Actuarial endeavours and provides me with more than enough financial assistance for my journey ahead.”

Victoria University is the first university in New Zealand to offer Actuarial Science as a major. Traditionally, gaining qualification as an actuary has been a long and arduous task. The new major aims to help students develop the skills and knowledge that will make access to the profession more straightforward and to highlight the career to students at a much earlier stage.

To find out more about Victoria University’s Actuarial Science programme, see our brochure

Celebrating our administrators

14 May 2014 - 12:26 in Achievement

In a double celebration, colleagues from the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research, the School of Engineering and Computer Science, and the Faculty of Science got together to recognise two of our great administration team. MSOR School Manager Ginny Whatarau received the 2014 Parker Bridge Administration Professionals Award for Wellington region office managers. The award was presented by Parker Bridge’s Adelle Kenny who commented that Ginny’s nomination stood out in a large field of nominations of high calibre. The award is well deserved recognition of Ginny’s work at the heart of the school.

It was also with some sadness that we farewelled Kelsey Firmin who leaves the schools’ office after 4 years. Kelsey has continually impressed us with her friendliness and willingness to meet and exceed our expectations. It has been a pleasure to witness her growing capability in the office and we wish her all the very best as she further develops her career in her new position at NZQA.

Adelle Kenny presents the award to Ginny

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Carolyn Chun wins Kenneth Patchen Award for the Innovative Novel

23 Nov 2011 - 15:16 in Achievement

Carolyn Chun, one of our postdocs working with Geoff Whittle and Dillon Mayhew on a two-year project funded by an International Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, has won the 2012 Kenneth Patchen Award for the Innovative Novel.

Carolyn did a Masters of Fine Arts at the same time as her PhD in matroid theory, and a novel she wrote at that time, "How to Break Article Noun," has won the award, which honours "the most innovative novel submitted during the previous calendar year". Congratulations to Carolyn! Here's a link with further details about the Kenneth Patchen Award:

Also, here's another link about the NSF International Research Fellowship which is funding Carolyn's current research on excluded minors for matroid representability over the five-element field:

NSF International Research Fellowship for Carolyn Chun

22 Mar 2010 - 10:06 in Achievement

Carolyn Chun has been awarded a two-year International Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. The NSF is one of the preeminent funding bodies for science in the USA. Their International Research Fellowships are designed to support international collaborative opportunities for reseachers in the early stages of their careers.

Carolyn arrived at Victoria in August 2008, after completing her PhD at Louisiana State University, to do research in matroid theory. Her stay is currently supported by the Marsden grant of Geoff Whittle. With the sponsorship of the NSF, she can extend her stay for another two years. Long enough for plenty of matroid theory, but more importantly, enough time for her collaborators to teach her the rules of cricket!

More information on the IRF programme can be found here:

Bethan Cropp wins James B Hartle Award

11 Oct 2010 - 11:16 in Achievement

Congratulations go to Bethan Cropp, Matt Visser's MSc student: she has won the Hartle Award for best student presentation at the international General Relativity conference in Mexico last July , competing against many PhD students. The talk she gave was based on the paper she and Matt wrote on "General polarization modes for the Rosen gravitational wave" which was recently published in the journal "Classical and Quantum Gravity".

Note that 2 of Matt's PhD students ,Silke and Celine won the same award at the previous GR18 conference in Sydney. There is at most one award from each parallel session, and there are six awards overall, from a conference of some 600 attendees, so congratulations to Matt too!

Best Student Prize for Ben Clark

13 Dec 2010 - 10:15 in Achievement

Ben Clark was given the prize for the best student talk at the recent ACCMCC conference in Canberra. This is the Australasian Conference on Combinatorial Mathematics and Combinatorial Computing and is the most significant conference in discrete mathematics held in Australia/New Zealand. Congratulations Ben!

Best Poster Award

17 Apr 2012 - 20:52 in Achievement

Andreana Holowatyj, who took part in the Summer Research Scholarships scheme, which is aimed to give students a meaningful research experience, won best overall in group four, Faculty of Science, in the Summer Gold Poster Competition. Her poster entitled "Characterizing Moves in Hexagonal Regions of Hextile Knot Mosaics" came from her summer research which was supervised by Professor Geoff Whittle. This year the number of entries was up by 50 per cent from the previous year and the quality made the judging an extremely difficult task.

Applied Statistics MSc student wins FoRST Maori Knowledge Fellowship

15 Feb 2010 - 17:11 in Achievement

OUr congratulations to Kylie Reiri, an applied statistics Masters student, who has been awarded a Te Tipu Putaiao (Maori Knowledge) Fellowship from FoRST. Kylie is one of four Victoria students, and one of only nine nationally, to win this award.

Under the supervision of Richard Arnold (SMSOR) and Adele Whyte (SBS), Kylie will conduct a statistical analysis of temporal and spatial variation in the Ngati Kahungunu fisheries catch. Her aim is to provide an improved view of the fisheries data currently collected in the Ngati Kahungunu rohe (boundaries), including reporting results at a finer geographical scale. Kylie will report back to Ngati Kahungunu stakeholders, iwi, scientific and industry groups, and to government.

Dr Alex Usvyatsov receives Shoenfield Prize

15 Apr 2014 - 09:41 in Achievement

Alex Usvyatsov has been awarded the 2013 Shoenfield Prize the Association for Symbolic Logic. The prizes are awarded every 3 years for the best book and best article demonstrating outstanding expository writing in the field of logic published in the previous 6 years. Alex’s prize is for the article “Model theory for metric structures," based on earlier work of Alex’s with Itai Ben Yaacov (Institut Camille Jordan, France) in the field of continuous logic, and that of C. Ward Henson (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) on model theory of Banach spaces, and written together with Alexander Berenstein.

The prize was established to honour the late Joseph R. Shoenfield for his many outstanding contributions to logic and to the Association for Symbolic Logic. Generations of logicians have especially valued Shoenfield's expository gifts, and his writings provide models of lucidity and elegance.

Rod Downey was a winner of this prize the last time it was awarded in 2010, this ‘double’ paying further testament to the international standing of the mathematical logic group at Victoria.

Adam Day wins Miller Fellowship

15 Dec 2010 - 13:47 in Achievement

Adam Day, a PhD student studying under the supervision of Professor Rod Downey has been awarded a Miller Research Fellowship for a three year term 2011-2014. Miller Research Fellowships are intended for brilliant young women and men of great promise who have recently been awarded, or who are about to be awarded, the doctoral degree. The Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science is located at the Berkeley campus of the University of California. All research is performed in the facilities provided by the host UC Berkeley academic department.The Institute will provide an annual stipend of US$60,000 and a research fund of US$12,000 per annum.

AMS Centennial Fellowship Awarded

21 Apr 2009 - 12:50 in Achievement


Antonio Montalbán, recently a Post-Doctoral fellow of Victoria University under Rod Downey, has been awarded the prestigious American Mathematical Society Centennial Fellowship for the 2009-2010 academic year. The fellowship is presented annually, for excellence in research achievement. The stipend for his fellowship is US$75,000, plus an expense allowance of US$7,500.

Antonio's research field is computability theory. In general, he is interested in measuring the complexity of proofs and constructions from classical mathematics. He plans to use his fellowship to visit Berkeley, among other places, and to work on finding the proof-theoretic strength of Laver's theorem and other theorems that seem to require proofs of particularly high complexity.

More information can be found at

2014 Nerode Prize

17 Mar 2014 - 16:22 in Achievement

Professor Rod Downey is co-author of one of two papers to be awarded the 2014 Nerode Prize for outstanding papers in

multivariate algorithmics and complexity, published in the 10 years before the award. Peter Widmayer, chair of the prize committee, made the announcement of the prizes last week. Rod's paper that was selected is:

"On problems without polynomial kernels”,

Hans L. Bodlaender, Rodney G. Downey, Michael R. Fellows and Danny Hermelin, Journal of Computer and System Sciences, 2009

The prize will be awarded at the International Symposium on Parameterized and Exact Computation, to be held in Wroclaw, Poland this September.

The School is delighted to acknowledge this further recognition of Rod’s outstanding scholarship and academic leadership in the field of computability and complexity.

Information about the prize can be found at

2011 Prizewinners

02 Aug 2012 - 10:35 in Achievement

2011 Prizewinners

Several prizes to honour outstanding mathematics and statistics students are listed at Academic Prizes. The oldest of these goes back to 1929. The following list of 2011 prizewinners is a small tribute to some of our best students.

First year

John P. Good Memorial Prize (MATH 142, 151, 161): jointly between Timothy Caldwell, Brandon Ross

Rotary Club of Wellington Prize (MATH 151, 161): Nguyen, Hoai Bach

Rotary Club of Wellington Prize (MATH177, STAT193): Saleha Yunus

Shayle Searle Prize (STAT 193): Hayley Landreth

Second year

Macmorran Prize (MATH 211, 243, 244, 251): Lee, Chang Min

Jenny Whitmarsh Award (female; MATH 243, 244, 251): Jessica Franklin

J. T. Campbell Prize (MATH277): Christina Vergunst

Third year

W. H. Vaughan Prize (MATH 301, 312, 313, 321): Luke Pratley

David Payne Memorial Prize (MATH 321, 322): Peter Moore

Statistics New Zealand Prize (MATH 377; STAT 332, 392, 393): Gabrielle McElwee

Health and Disability Intelligence Prize (STAT 392): Charlotte Gutenbrunner

2011 Hatherton Award to Dr Adam Day

15 Nov 2011 - 11:16 in Achievement

The Hatherton Award for 2011 has been awarded to the pure mathematician Dr Adam Day for his paper entitled "Increasing the Gap between Descriptional Complexity and Algorithmic Probability" which was published in the Transactions of the American Mathematical Society in October 2011. Dr Day was the single author of the paper and worked from the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research, Victoria University of Wellington.

The paper is published in one of the world's top pure mathematics journals and reports a fundamental contribution to the area of algorithmic information theory, concerned with the relationship between the a priori probability of an event and the event's shortest descriptional length. The author has solved a 26 year old question in the area and the result is regarded by the referees as a tour de force of lasting value and considered a most significant result in algorithmic information theory.

Dr Day completed his undergraduate and PhD degrees at Victoria University under the supervision of Professor Rod Downey and has now received a Miller Fellowship to further his studies at the University of California, Berkeley. The Hatherton Award is awarded annually for the best paper in physical, earth or maths and information sciences by a New Zealand University PhD student. It was established in memory of Trevor Hatherton FRSNZ, President of the Royal Society of New Zealand 1985-89, and awarded for the first time in 1997.