International Mobility Programme takes off in 2019

Mathematics knows no races or geographic boundaries; for mathematics, the cultural world is one country.

David Hilbert, mathematician and mathematical physicist

Launched in July 2018, our International Mobility Programme (IMP) provides support for ACEMS students and ECRs to travel overseas to institutions to undertake small research projects and to collaborate with ACEMS’ vast network of international partners..

By the end of 2019, 11 ACEMS members have taken advantage of the opportunity to get IMP funding – more than $100,000 so far -- to build their international networks and experience, travelling to six different countries.

Olive Krzysik from ACEMS at Monash University was one of the first to travel with an IMP grant. He spent a month in Canada, visiting researchers at Memorial University in Newfoundland and the University of Waterloo in Ontario, where his PhD advisor, Professor Hans De Sterck, moved to last year.

“I made substantial progress on my main research project. This included extending previous results and starting work with a new collaborator on the project. It’s been great to have so much one-on-one time with my collaborators, says Oliver.

ACEMS PhD student Oliver Krzysik visited St Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Oliver works on parallel time integration algorithms, which use supercomputers to speed-up the time it takes to simulate phenomena that evolve with time. For example, one application in this field is weather prediction.

Thanks to the IMP, ACEMS Research Fellow Dorota Toczydlowska (UTS) travelled to Japan. Dorota visited the Institute of Statistical Mathematics (ISM) in Tokyo to work with Professor Tomoko Matsui, and with her former PhD supervisor at University College London, Professor Gareth Peters.

“The whole atmosphere of working there was really special, and it was a very productive period of research for me,” says Dorota.

Dr Dorota Toczydlowska

Dorota’s project is about optimal multi-stopping theory, with an application to smart cities and urban planning. Optimal stopping problems are concerned with the problem of choosing a time or times to take a particular action, either to maximise benefits or minimise cost.

“Those decisions need to be dynamic in terms of what problems are arising,” says Dorota.

In this case, Dorota is looking at how to mitigate environmental risk toward densely-populated cities.

ACEMS Research Fellow Steven Psaltis (QUT) travelled to Oxford University in the UK, where he worked with Professor Colin Please and the battery modelling group at the University’s Mathematical Institute.

“I visited Colin briefly during my PhD when he was in Southampton, and he has visited QUT over the last few years. I got in touch about arranging my visit, and he was happy to host me,” says Steve.

Dr Steve Psaltis at Oxford

Steve’s project involves modelling spiral-bound lithium batteries using multi-scale asymptotic models

“The experience was great. There’s a really good group of people there working in similar areas.”

Being in Europe also allowed Steve to attend the Conference for the International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM) in Valencia, Spain.

ACEMS PhD student Abhishek Bhardwaj also travelled to Europe, with research stops in Germany and Slovenia.

Abhishek Bhardwaj in Slovenia

“Thanks to the IMP I was able to work with some of the best researchers in my field. It gave me an opportunity to experience research cultures outside of Australia, and has helped me to establish collaboration networks internationally,” says Abhishek, who is a PhD student at the Australian National University.

The ACEMS IMP team is made up of Programme Directors Dr Thomas Taimre (UQ) and Dr Christopher Drovandi (QUT), and project officer Claudia Deasy.

“Given these great outcomes for our participants so far, I would encourage CIs and AIs of ACEMS to think about whether this program might be useful for ECRs under their supervision and have conversations with them. It is also worth remembering that it is possible to host an ECR from overseas,” says Chris.

“I strongly encourage all ACEMS ECRs and grad students to seize this opportunity to expose themselves to new ideas, cultures, and experiences,” says Thomas.

Scientific Outcomes

As a direct result of the funding provided to the first eight outbound IMP recipients that have provided an initial report, the following outstanding scientific outcomes have been produced:

  • 3 collaborative papers submitted for publication.
  • 7 collaborative papers in preparation.
  • Progress made on 2 possible additional papers.
  • 7 seminars, conference talks or workshops were delivered.
  • Significant number of new international connections.
  • Substantial work completed to contribute to 1 MPhil thesis and 1 PhD thesis. In the latter case, the IMP funding was crucial for the completion of the thesis. This student also received a postdoctoral fellowship offer.

Although the direct outcomes from the IMP funding are positive, ACEMS expects that the subsequent outcomes and benefits arising from the new collaborations and connections established with the support of ACEMS will be far greater, and these will reveal themselves over the next several years and possibly decades.

If you’d like more information about the Programme, head to the IMP page on the ACEMS website: