Information for research students

I welcome motivated research students at all levels from undergraduate to PhD (I have also supervised a postdoctoral research fellow). I am always on the lookout for sources of funding for research students. Good NZ resident students have access to more sources of government funding, so my main effort is going into supporting non-resident students. The University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship is very competitive.

Current PhD students

Graduated PhD students

I have supervised around 10 projects at the undergraduate/honours level, and played a secondary role in supervision of some other PhD students.

Working with me

The important things to know about me as a supervisor are:

  • A student project is a partnership (the more advanced the level, the more direction is left to the student). The amount of work that I put in will be proportional to the amount of work that the student does.
  • I am best motivated by very diligent students who have a lot of initiative and ask a lot of good questions. It is never too early to start thinking for yourself.
  • I typically meet weekly for at least an hour with each student.
    I respond much better to students who are well prepared for our regular meetings. Time is valuable.
  • Provided the student works hard, I will do my absolute best to ensure that the student gains as much as possible from the experience.
  • I prefer a friendly working relationship without excessive formality or deference. But I expect students to listen very seriously to any advice I give.

Types of research projects

These vary from summer projects to PhD theses. The main differences are as follows.

  • The time allotted to research. For example, summer projects (8 weeks full time), honours dissertations (1 year 1/4 time), master theses (1 year) and PhD theses (3-4 years) vary considerably.
  • The level of self-direction expected of the student. Typically, the shorter the project, the less experience the student has, and the more direction will be given.
  • The type of results expected. For a summer project, the idea is to advance my research in ways that will eventually lead to publication of new results. An honours dissertation is typically expected to show good knowledge of the specific subject and good understanding of the conventions of research writing. A master’s is expected to exhibit these to a higher degree. Neither is required to produce original research results. The PhD thesis is of course expected to contain substantial original research.
  • The methodology. My research projects typically require a mixture of numerical results derived from implementing a good algorithm, symbolic mathematical computations often using software to assist, and rigorous mathematical proofs. The shorter ones usually concentrate on numerical results and the longer ones on proofs, but it very much depends on the student. Commonly, students perform computer-assisted explorations to give insight into phenomena about which we may be able to prove something (“experimental mathematics”).

Useful links