Liam Jolliffe

Liam found a lifelong passion in mathematics, now he is studying at the University of Cambridge and working towards a career in research.

Liam Jolliffe smiling in front of painting by Peter Smith. Painting depicts tables and graphs with red and yellow tones.

Studying for his honours degree at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington introduced Liam to research, and now he is studying a PhD at the University of Cambridge and working towards a career in research. “I would certainly recommend the Honours program if you want to go into research. It is a good way of doing lots of high-level courses and spending an entire year just focusing on math,” he says.

His Honours research project on Matroid Theory gave Liam his first taste of working with a supervisor, Associate Professor Dillon Mayhew. He reminisces, “It was a good first taste of doing research and doing things a bit more independently than the usual structure of lectures, exams, and assignments. It was nice to think about a project for myself, go away and read things, come back, talk to Dillon about it, and write it all up as a project in the end.”

Liam’s passion for research also won him two Summer Research Scholarships at the Robinson Research Institute, working with the superconducting transformers team under Dr Mike Staines. “My projects were around building the economic case for superconducting transformers on the national power grid.”

At Cambridge, he has completed his Master’s and is working towards a PhD specialising in representation theory. “My Honours year was a good entry point to my Master’s year. It meant that I had covered a broad range of topics,” Liam comments.

The social aspect of research is also a huge draw for Liam. “I enjoy working on a project and talking to different people from different universities who have worked on similar things, and hearing different ideas and approaches to similar sorts of projects. By applying others’ ideas and approaches to slightly different situations, we can  build on what we have managed to achieve so far,” he says.

In future, Liam hopes to stay within the tertiary education sector, blending research and teaching. “A university job that combines both sides of that would be where I would like to end up.”