Published on October 28th, 2013 | by Daphane Ng


Student profile: Mahrita Harahap (Summer School)

Mahrita Harahap
University of New South Wales, Master of Statistics student
University of Technology Sydney, Bachelor of Mathematics and Finance (Hons)

I’ve got a background in financial mathematics, but after I did my honours I decided that I wanted to utilise my mathematical skills for a different purpose – I wanted to work in climate and environmental science rather than in finance.

My masters research project is on statistical modelling of extreme rainfall in southwest Western Australia. This part of Australia is very dry at the moment, and has been since the 1960s. In light of recent concerns over climate change, the use of robust statistical methods for analysis on extreme events such as extreme rainfall has grown in importance in order to prevent the significant impact of floods or droughts.

Coming from a quantitative finance background, I decided to take climate statistics at last year’s AMSI Summer School. This subject helped me with my research and I learnt a lot about how to apply my skills in mathematics and statistics to environmental science, an area that was completely new to me. Something that’s really good about the AMSI Summer School is that they offer some very niche subjects that most universities can’t provide.

Because of the delightful experience last time I went to the AMSI Summer School, I registered again this year completing a subject called Complex Networks. This subject was really interesting because it looks at understanding how we can characterise and analyse real-world networks, like biological networks (food webs), technological networks and social interaction networks. Ever since I was in high school I’ve been interested in how mathematics can be applied to everything we do. A lot of people don’t understand that. I also undertook mathematical epidemiology which looks at using mathematical models which are increasingly used to inform governmental policy-makers on issues that threaten human health or which have an adverse impact on the economy.

The AMSI Summer School is also great for professional networking. I enjoyed being able to meet world famous mathematicians such as Dr Keith Devlin at the Summer School dinner, and Professor Simon Levin’s lectures were fantastic. This is my second AMSI Summer School and it has been great to catch up with some of the friends I made last year and make new lifelong friends this year.

The Master of Statistics should set me up well to go into areas like environmental science, data analytics, epidemiology, actuarial science. Next year I’m hoping to apply to do a PhD, since I think I’d like to become a research scientist.[subscribe2]

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