With a career path firmly set in teaching, PhD candidate Meenu Mariya Jose, realised that to be a great teacher she first had to be a great student.
“I always knew that teaching was my passion and Victoria University of Wellington has allowed me to pursue this. I really value the opportunities I’ve had to tutor undergraduate students and to interact with school students.”
Meenu found that the more mathematics she did as an undergraduate and Master’s student, the more she enjoyed it. A PhD was a perfect gateway for her to explore new ideas and to discuss these ideas with others.
Her current research involves an area of discrete mathematics called matroid theory. “It requires thinking about the structure of objects that are arrangements of finite points in space. We observe these structures, investigate special properties they possess and try to find out what makes them unique. My supervisor, Dr Dillon Mayhew, is very knowledgeable in this area.
“There is a big debate as to whether the mathematical universe was created by mathematicians or merely discovered by them. I am of the latter opinion, and every time I understand one more property or get an insight into the behaviour of these structures I’m amazed.”
Throughout her study, Meenu embraced other activities that have enriched her experience. As well as being involved with tutoring and outreach programmes, she helped organise an annual mathematics postgraduate conference. “The people I have met in the University, the various backgrounds they come from and beliefs they hold have all led to very interesting conversations and friendships.”
After she graduates, Meenu would like to continue researching and go on to lecture or teach. “I’m not sure where at the moment. The future, as they say, is uncertain and I think that’s exciting.”